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Thursday 30 March 2017

Ministry Of Silly Walks

Drummonds AKA The Ministry of Silly Walks.

Location: London, England
Address: 49 Charing Cross
Date: Sept 2015
Website: www.rbs.com

 Drummonds Bank has been located across from Trafalgar Square since 1760.  It is located at the top end of Whitehall which is a street in London that contains many government buildings.  Those government buildings house many different departments and ministries.  If an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus is to be believed, there is one ministry that many people have never heard of.

Old War Office.
 Big Ben.

   In the skit, John Cleese portrays a minister who is shown walking up Whitehall.  In the background you can clearly see the London icon Big Ben as well as the Old War Office.  The minister has a very unusual walk which is hard to describe.

Silly Walk up the stairs of the Firkin On Bloor.

    In Toronto, Canada there is a Firkin pub on Bloor Street East which has this silly walk painted on the wall beside its staircase.

Headed towards Nelson's Column.

  John Cleese continues walking his walk along Whitehall towards Trafalgar Square.  When he finally arrives at his destination he will have to apologize that his walk has become rather sillier recently and as a result it takes him longer to get to work.

These walkers are not patricularly silly.

  We are now only a few silly steps from the offices of a ministry that is supposed to receive the same government spending as Defence, Social Security, Health, Housing and Education.  Last year the British Government spent more money on National Defence than on the ministry in question.

Perhaps with Government backing her walk would be more silly.

  John continues on past the railing above until the camera zooms in on a sign that reveals the name of the ministry.

The Ministry Of Silly Walks.

  We are now almost back at the entrance to Drummonds Bank and on the fence (above) between the ATM and the window with flowers is a sign which states, "Ministry Of Silly Walks".  This skit has been an all time favourite amongst Monty Python fans.  Monty Python's appeal lies in the fact that they combine both intelligence and silliness.  We suggest that when you visit Trafalgar Square you should also take a walk along Whitehall Road to visit this filming location.  Your walk may not be as silly as a member of this legendary comedy troupe, but like Michael Palin's character we think that with Government backing you could make it very silly.

Map of Our World
Ministry of Silly Walks
Firkin On Bloor

Post # 169

Monday 20 March 2017

Polar Bear Enrichment & Training

Conserving The Polar Bear

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd.
Date: March 2017
Website: www.torontozoo.com

  February 25th 2017 was International Polar Bear Day.  We attended the Toronto Zoo that day.  Specifically we attended a talk by the Torono Zoo's polar bear keepers and Dr. Martyn Obbard, a polar bear researcher.  Dr. Martyn Obbard talked about how the increasingly shorter season of sea ice is making life harder for the bears.  The bears rely on the sea ice to go out and hunt for seals.  Without the sea ice, the bears do not get enough to eat. Dr. Obbard worked for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and his research has helped us understand what we can do to help the bears.  Conservation of polar bears requires not only several Canadian provincial and territorial governments working together, but several countries as well.  Polar Bears can be found in Canada, Greenland, Norway, USA and Russia.

Toronto Zoo's Polar Bear Family.

  The zoo keepers also talked about their experience working with the polar bears.  The three most recent polar bear babies were all offspring of Inukshuk and Aurora.  Hudson and Humphrey just recently returned to the Toronto Zoo and Juno was leaving the week after International Polar Bear Day.  The keepers talked about enrichment and training of the bears.  One lucky person at the talk would win a chance to see a polar bear training session.  Guess who won?

  We attended the training session a few weeks later.  The training sessions make it easier for the keepers to administer medication, to give the bears a checkup and to move the bears around the exhibit.  Our training session was with Nikita.  The keeper used different hand signals and a whistle to ask the bear to perform a task.  Each success was rewarded with either a handful of meat or fish.  When the keeper made an open hand motion Nikita opened her mouth.  When the keeper tapped a wooden stick against the fence, Nikita would touch it with her closest hand.  When the keeper pointed to a target, Nikita would go over and touch her nose to the target.  The children that attended the training with us were very impressed with how well Nikita performed.  Finally, one big fish and the training was completed for the day.  Good work Nikita and good work to all of the people helping polar bears in the wild.

Click here to take a virtual tour and see our (almost complete) collection of Toronto Zoo animal photos.

Map of Our World
Toronto Zoo (Tundra Trek)

Post # 168

Wednesday 15 March 2017

54 & A Half St Patrick Street

I'm half the house I used to be.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 54 1/2 St. Patrick Street
Date: Dec 2014

  On St. Patrick Street in Toronto there is one house that stands out.  It stands out because it is only half a house.  It looks as if it has been chopped right down the middle.

Not My Better Half.

 On one side the home is nestled up against other houses, but the opposite side is just a concrete wall.  Its next door neighbour on the concrete side is an apartment building.  We imagine that other homes and the missing half of 54 1/2 once stood where the apartment is now.

54.5 St. Patrick Street.

  Even its street address is 54 1/2 St. Patrick Street which makes us wonder if it used to be 55 St. Patrick Street?  The apartment next door is number 60 and the building to the left is number 54 so really this house should be renumbered as 56. 

Unfinished House.

  For a better vantage point we climbed the parking garage that was situated across the street.  From up here it looks like some sort of optical illusion.  Back at street level we can see that this is no magician's mirror trick.  Somehow this building has survived the wrecking ball all of these years.  You really halve to see it for yourself.

You Halve To See This.

This location is near Osgoode subway. Visit other Toronto TTC stations.

Map of Our World
54 1/2 St. Patrick Street

Post # 167

Friday 10 March 2017

Mama's Fish House

Mama Oooh.

Location: Maui,Hawaii,USA
Address: 799 Poho Pl.
Date: Feb 2017
Website: www.mamasfishhouse.com

   Mama's Fish House is rated as not only one of the top restaurants in Hawaii, but in the USA.  We have been lucky enough to eat at Mama's twice during our Hawaiian vacations.  What makes Mama's so special?  Well, for starters it is located on the beautiful island of Maui.  Even the Jack In The Box in Kahului gets extra points for its island location.

Mama's Beach.

  Mama's Fish House is also situated on a small, secluded section of beach with a light breeze and the soothing sound of waves.

  The first time we visited Mama's we had a reservation.  If you want to ensure yourself a good table we recommend that you reserve before you even arrive in Maui.  We had a lunch reservation on the last day of our trip before heading to the airport.  We were earlier than our reservation time so we had to wait for our table.  While we waited we enjoyed the view and even spotted sea turtles in the water below.  Before we knew it our table was ready.

  We were lucky enough to be seated with a beach view (below).
Beachside Table For Two.

  Mama's always has great food, great atmosphere and great service.  One thing they do on their menu is print both the fisherman's name and the location where the fish was caught.  They do the same thing with farmers to show their support of the local industry and how fresh their food is. 

Can't You See Me Here Mama.

  On our second visit to Mama's we did not have a reservation, but we got lucky.  Parking spaces are limited so there is only valet parking.  We drove up to the valet and they asked if we had a reservation.  Just as the valet was telling us "Sorry", a spot opened up at the bar.

Mama's Bar.

  The bar is a small section where you could eat, but it is not as nice as having a proper table.

Welcome to Mama's.

  After leaving our car with the valet we walked down the stairs and across the front of the restaurant.  On the way we were greeted by a brown anole before arriving at the hostess.  We were lucky again as now the hostess informed us that a table had just opened up.

Mama's Birds Of Paradise.
 Mama's Art.

  From appetizer to dessert everything was always delicious and perfectly prepared.  It is well worth the higher price tag.  Their signature dish is crab stuffed Mahimahi with a macadamia nut crust.  It was delectable.

Back To The Beach.

  After enjoying our dinner we headed back out to the beach. 

Turtle Rock.

  A group of people had gathered near the water's edge.  We then noticed that two of the rocks seemed to be loose.  On closer inspection we realized that once again we had found green sea turtles off of Mama's Maui shore.  These two turtles were enjoying a feast of their own.

Two Turtles And Lots Of Rocks.
 It Wasn't A Rock..  It Was A Honu.

  A Hawaiian green sea turtle is called a honu and is said to be good luck.  Getting a table at Mama's Fish House is also good luck and a delicious meal you won't soon forget.

Map of Our World
Mama's Fish House

Post # 166

Sunday 5 March 2017

Al Green Sculpture Park

They Have Landed.

Location: Toronto,Ontario,Canada
Address: 77 Davisville Ave.
Date: June 2015
Website: carlbucher.com/werk

   Tucked in between Balliol Street and Davisville Avenue in Toronto is a small parkette known as the Al Green Sculpture Park.  Al Green was both a sculptor and a real estate developer.  It is fitting that the park is located just a little distance east of Yonge Street between several condo developments.  We believe that Al Green was responsible for both the buildings and the art.

A Man & His Guitar.
Homage To Higher Power.
People.  People Who Help People.

  A majority of the pieces were created by Al Green himself.  The piece above is called People Helping People and features two giant hands grasping each other.

The Chambermaid.

   There was also some work by Sorel Etrog such as Grande Odalisque (above).

We Come In Peace.

 The highlight of the park is a sculpture called The Landing. It features two red cartoonish alien creatures coming down to earth.  The creatures (maybe they are spaceships?) appear to be landing into a small pool. Whatever they are, we welcome them to planet Earth and know that because they look so cute they could never mean us any harm.

Meck Maack!

This location is near Davisville subway. Visit other Toronto TTC stations.

Map of Our World
Al Green Sculpture Park

Post # 165