a peek inside the fishbowl

26 May, 2017

Andrea’s Tuesday: sunny cycling

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life,Ottawa

To review: every other Tuesday is my day off and I’m trying to use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. Last time I went for a bike ride to Dow’s Lake. It’s hard to believe it was cold two weeks ago and the tulips were barely showing their colours!

Mark suggested I meet him downtown for sushi on my day off, so that’s exactly what I did. Somehow the plan became for me to bike downtown, but the weather was co-operating so I decided to take on the challenge. My usual route along the river was still closed due to recent flooding, so I had to map a new one. I started at Dovercourt after dropping off a bag for charity (yay! one whole bag of stuff gone from my closet!) and wound my way to Island Park>Experimental Farm>Dow’s Lake> then followed the Rideau Canal downtown.

It was, in a word, glorious. I am nervous on the road and never feel completely safe, but once I hit the pathway it was smooth sailing.

Once I reached the Laurier Bridge I gave a whoop and shouted: I DID IT. I am not sure if anyone heard me but I couldn’t help myself. I felt so great. (Note to self: have lunch on the patio at the NAC!)

I parked my bike down by the Bytowne Museum and walked a bit to meet Mark. (He works dangerously close to BeaverTails. How does he resist?)

Culture clash (the good kind) at BeaverTails

Byward Market Square

You know who has great sushi downtown? LaPointe’s! It’s very fresh, and a good value too. We ordered our lunches to go and chose a bench with a view at Major’s Hill Park:

Sushi with a view

And then we went on a post-lunch stroll. The tulips had managed to hold it together for my visit, but it was clear they were a day or two away from throwing in the towel. Those Canada 150 tulips are gorgeous, aren’t they? I want to know where I can buy some bulbs for next year.

Canada 150 tulips, with a view

Canada 150 tulip

Mark had to go back to work so I took some time to check out Inspiration Village. Confession: As you may know, I am usually Ottawa’s biggest cheerleader. I hate to be a Debbie Downer about this, but I couldn’t really get too inspired here. Perhaps I’m missing something, but it was essentially a bunch of shipping containers set up in a downtown parking lot with selfie stations for each province and territory. This is what it looks like when it is closed (er, at 11:45 a.m. on a weekday morning).

Inspiration Village in Ottawa (when it's closed)

… and here it is, when it’s open:

Inspiration Village, Ottawa

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

As for the Ottawa sign that has been the subject of many conversations since it went up, I think it’s cool. It’s a weird place for it though. Wouldn’t it have been nicer on Major’s Hill Park somewhere? Then at least all of those photos being snapped and shared would have something scenic in the background, not matter what side you took the photo from:

The Ottawa sign

… and it’s hard to take a selfie, but then again, this is not my best skill:

My sad attempt at a selfie

I walked back through the crowds, enjoying the sights of Ottawa getting all spiffed up for Canada 150:

Spiffing up the capital for Canada 150

I took the same route home via the canal. I waved at tourists on the river cruise (they waved back), got a thumbs up from a jogger when I dinged my bell, and got a sweet apology by a young man who was too busy looking at his phone to see me coming. I stopped at the Corktown Footbridge, also referred to as the Somerset Street bridge, to take a closer look at all the locks there:

Love locks

Love locks

So much love!When I arrived back at Dow’s Lake I walked my bike so I can take a few more photos of those gorgeous flower beds. None of these photos do them any justice. I can’t fathom how many blooming blooms were blooming:

When I arrived back at Dow’s Lake I walked my bike so I can take a few more photos of those gorgeous flower beds. None of these photos do them any justice. I can’t fathom how many blooming blooms were blooming:

Taking photos of the photo takers

So many tulips!

I couldn’t bear to bike back up the big hill along Queen Elizabeth Drive so I cut through the park to the Civic Hospital neighbourhood. There was barely any traffic. It was so tranquil, just me and the quiet whirr of my bike.

I picked up dinner at Farm Boy on the way home and spent the rest of the afternoon puttering around in the garden. It was a perfect day off, for sure.

Mark and I have been planning a bike ride out to Stittsville. We wanted to do it last year but I felt like I wasn’t ready, not to mention the fact I’m probably riding the wrong bike for me and it needs serious adjustment. Maybe I should just take the leap? What’s the worst thing that can happen? (Ok, the worst thing is that I collapse at Quitter’s Cafe and need to call someone to come pick me up. Sigh.) Someone, anyone! Please advise me!

20 May, 2017

Weekend reading: May 20 edition 

By andrea tomkins in Weekend reading

On the nightstand: The Nightingale: A Novel

18 May, 2017

Spring things, and a bit of news

By andrea tomkins in Misc. life

I hardly know where to begin this post because there has been a lot going on here at Casa Fishbowl lately.

First, I must take a moment to look back at Mother’s Day. This year, Mother’s Day weekend fell on the same weekend we’d normally celebrate our eldest daughter’s birthday so it was a combo deal. Emma got to pick the menu for dinner (ribs and waffle fries) as well as dessert.

This is what gets written on a cake when celebrating a teenage birthday as well as Mother’s Day:

Happy, er, Birtherday

I was amused. :)
For Mother’s Day we had a lovely breakfast (which always must include bagels from the Bagel Shop and smoked salmon!) and the girls made me lovely cards:

Mother's Day cards and beauty await

The eldest daughter turned 18. 18! I promised myself I wouldn’t write a mushy missive outlining my love and pride, so I’ll leave it there, with OVERWHELMING LOVE AND PRIDE. To celebrate the occasion we took her across the river to Gatineau so she could order a drink with dinner. We went to Les Brasseurs du Temps. Have you been? They have a very good menu and many craft brews on tap (try Le Pommee!). Make sure you don’t miss the beer museum while you’re there.

Let the record show that our newly minted 18-year-old wasn’t asked for ID when she ordered her MELON ROND (Grey Goose, liqueur de melon, ginger ale, limonade & lime fraîche). She says she liked it but I’m not 100% sure.

I was so stuffed, I waddled back to the car. Thankfully, things settled down a bit before we reached our next destination, the new Stella Luna location in Hintonburg. I am not exaggerating when I say it’s probably the best gelato I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

I will be back! Maybe I should make it a special jogging destination? It’s about 3 km there from our place… hmm. ;)

It was, understandably, pretty big news that the eldest turned 18, but we received even BIGGER news the next day. She was accepted to her university program of choice and will be attending Queen’s in the fall. She got a nice little scholarship too! (A few of you will remember this post about teens, work, and university application. Clearly, I was worried when I wrote it.) As you can imagine, Mark and I are thrilled and excited for her.

What else? This week I’ve been slowly getting back into gardening. I know myself, and I know this enthusiasm typically starts to wear thin the moment gardening becomes another chore that needs to be taken care of around the household. (Say, July.) But for now, I have been planting, dividing, and happily admiring and arranging things in the backyard again.

Surprise tulip in the garden

The girls went to Comicon on Sunday morning so Mark and I checked out a Friends of the Farm plant sale at the Experimental Farm. While we were there we bought a new hosta (one of the most forgiving plants in our yard!) to add to our collection:


We also bought this Primula Marginata from an alpine garden group at the plant sale. I love alpine gardens! The tiny plants! The rocks! Their inherent toughness! I just hope this one is tough enough to survive ME:

Primula marginata

I planted some morning glory seeds today and have decided I going to try my hand at growing garlic this year. I am happy to be happy.


Have a great summer at Saunders Farm!

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  • a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Andrea's Tuesday: sunny cycling - a peek inside the fishbowl: […] use this time to recharge my batteries. No work, no meetings, minimal errands. Last time I went for a bike ride to Dow’s Lake. It̵
  • andrea tomkins: eye aïl : That's what I had thought but the package has spring planting instructions too! Hmm. Thanks everyone for the good wishes. We are so happ
  • Susan Ovington: Happy 18th Birthday to your Daughter. Huge milestone, also Congrats to her on her scholarship for University. Hoping she enjoys her years away, I'm su
  • Brenda A: There is nothing like that fat envelope with your top university choice showing up in your mailbox. Way to go!!
  • Ginger: I think, "How can your oldest be 18 all ready?" And then I think, "Oh yeah...my two will be 9 this summer." Congratulations on the next big step
  • eye aïl: Garlic is planted in the fall.
  • joy: I am happy you are happy, too! :)

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 (17) and Sarah (15). 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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