Warm up by the fire

Warm up by the fire

Whether wood burning or gas lit - something special about the sparkle of a winter’s fire

The Christmas holiday season makes for the perfect time to be in the great outdoors. And once you are back in from the cold and play, the perfect opportunity awaits for you to warm up by the fire.

In Neil Pasricha’s “The Book of (Holiday) Awesome” he talks about the awesomeness of staring into the fire.

Truly there is something special when you light up the fire after returning from a winter wonderland walk, toboggan run, snow board, skate on the pond, snow mobile ride or walk around the park with the dog.

Having a chance to warm up by the fire is not only a great way to shed yourself of winter cold, but a great way to connect with family and friends to reminisce about the year that has passed.

Of course many of the traditional fires have been replaced by gas inserts. Nonetheless, the warmth and joy of a fire mid winter is still a pretty awesome moment during the holidays. Throw another log on the fire.

Wishing you much warmth and happiness this holiday season.

@fergdevins


Christmas tree lights

When the Christmas Tree is the Only Light

How many lights does it take to create your desired glow?

Presents are wrapped, baking is complete, plans are made for the holidays, kids are either in bed or on their own playing, the tv is off, the iPad is closed, the iPhone is silenced and it is time. It is time to turn off all the lights and experience that special moment when the Christmas Tree is the only light on in your home.

The tree simply glistens. With it comes memories of years gone by with family and friends. Dreams of cold winter nights with a fire burning, a hot tottie in hand and a fresh piece of shortbread.

When the Christmas tree is the only light on in the home, you can almost hear the angels singing your favorite carols in your mind. The pine scent is filling the room and ornaments twinkle in the lights.

In  Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", this is one of this moments that he captures as awesome. It is truly awesome. Peace, harmony, light and just simply a moment of silence reflecting with your own little Christmas creation - your Christmas tree.

Wishing you this moment for you and loved ones this Christmas. Just take that moment to dim or turn off the lights and let your tree shine brightly.

@fergdevins


Santa

When there is no line at the mall to meet Santa

Have you been to the mall to see Santa yet this season?

Ho Ho Ho. That is the wonderful cheerful sound of Santa when positioned next to the Christmas tree in the mall. The even sweeter awesome moment is certainly when there is no line at the mall to meet Santa.

Neil Pasricha, in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" captures this moment of awesome.

Whether you plan to visit Santa at the mall, or just happen to turn the corner and see Santa at the mall - it is one of the moments for kids of all ages to experience during the holiday season.

I still think that best plan is to do a little research into Santa's hours at the mall. By assessing his very busy agenda, you might be well advised to get to the mall when he has arrived with his sleigh. Early visitors may have a shorter line in front of them.

Wishing you much happiness this holiday season as you experience your own awesome moments at Christmas.

@fergdevins


Outdoor Christmas Lights

Driving to see the Christmas Lights

Old fashioned or new LED - it is still a wonderful spectacle this time of year

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. With just 20 days left to Christmas, it is a perfect time to be out driving to see the Christmas lights.

This is truly one of those awesome moments of the holiday season, as mentioned by Neil Pasricha in his "The Book of (Holiday Awesome)".

Do you remember growing up in your small town or community and having mom and dad shout out the special plan for the evening? "Tonight we are going to drive around town and look at all the lights". Oh my gosh, those were special moments. In many instances, we would pack a snack bag with a mandarin orange and a couple of shortbread cookies for the road. Often times we would jump into our pajamas, bring a quilt for our laps and strike out on a tour of the town to see the lights.

We would venture out to new parts of town, ending up at the tree located at Main and Second in the center of town in Kenora. The town/city tree is still erected each year in Kenora. I am sure that this is a mighty tradition in your local community as well.

Over the years the transition from traditional lights to LED's and the proliferation of Christmas and seasonal infltables has transformed the Christmas light tours across the nation.

Wishing you and enjoyable drive to the the Christmas lights in your neighbourhood, city, town, village or countryside this holiday season.

@fergdevins


wrapping paper lines up

When the wrapping paper lines up

One of those “aha” awesome moments of the Christmas season

Sometimes the awesome moments during the holidays are small achievements. Do you ever catch your self in a moment of joy, or upset and realize what is causing your emotion is actually quite trivial in nature? In the ramp up to Christmas, one of those trivial moments could be that moment when the wrapping paper lines up, or doesn't.

You've selected the most amazing pattern to wrap your gifts. Upon wrapping you realize that the pattern won't line up. Well, with a little bit of maneuvering it will likely line up, but it adds a little planning and strategy to the simple task of wrapping.

When the wrapping paper lines up, you have a moment of joy. There is a sense of accomplishment. You might even lay a high five or bump to one of your family members nearby.

As Neil Pasricha points out in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", wrapping is serious. However, let's not get caught up in these trivial moments of highs and lows of the season. Let us seek out our joy in not only when the wrapping paper lines up but some of those other moments of joy the holidays season brings:

  • When the lights all turn on when you plug them in the first time.
  • The beer in the fridge is still fresh.
  • Every seasonal apparatus working on batteries is still working from last year.
  • Your outdoor ornaments survived the summer shed storage.
  • Flights all arrive on time with family members returning home for the holidays.
  • Son or daughter's "last exam" isn't Christmas eve morning.
  • You remembered to put gas in the snow blower when you got dumped on Christmas morning.
  • Your Christmas paper napkins are in good supply.
  • Your wifi is capable of handling of your visitors of the season.
  • You remembered to PVR that new holiday tv special the night you were out for dinner.
  • You have enough kindling prepared for the increase in fires during the holidays.
  • Your BBQ tank is full, and a spare on hand.
  • Your hot water tank is in good working order, for added guests.
  • You remembered to re-print the holiday carols.
  • Your remembered your family member who is a vegetarian with an option for Christmas dinner.

May your holidays be happy and bright and may all of your Christmas's be white.

@fergdevins


Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Rockettes at Christmas in New York

Each community has their spectacular Christmas showpiece - and the Rockettes Christmas is certainly one to behold in Manhattan, New York

The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a wonderful holiday treasure in New York City. Ah NYC and the magic of Christmas. Truly something special.

Walking New York streets there is the constant sound of Christmas carols from shops and vendors. When you think of all the "Christmas tunes" this time of year, one can only imagine those early days in the streets of New York with stars of the day like Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Barbara Streisand, Johnny Mathas, Aretha Franklin and the Carpenters (to name just a few).  Click forward to such present-day delights and performances by Gwen Stefani, Michael Buble, Sam Smith, Pentatonix and The Tenors as they carry on the tradition of wonderful Christmas music.

The famous Radio City Rockettes Christmas Show has reigned over New York City since December of 1933 . We were able to take in this awesome event on a recent getaway to New York City. We had attended the show before. It was so wonderful to see all of the enhancements that have made the show so current, in technology and visual effects. Naturally, Santa, The Rockettes, and the story of the Baby Jesus are core to the performance. The three-dimensional filmography is a wonderful start early in the show. It is just so much fun to see the kids in the audience reaching out to try and catch presents falling from Santa's sleigh, as he flies over Manhattan.

Although The Radio City Rockettes Christmas show is a crown jewel in Christmas performances, many such holiday spectacles take place in communities across North America and around the world. There are countless celebrations and performances bringing joy to family and friends with local traditions of Christmas pageants and events. This is in addition to the Sunday programming at churches and parishes as we approach Christmas eve checking off each day on the advent calendar. In Toronto, there are lots to choose from (note, the post says 2011 but it has been updated). No doubt your community has a similar list - just google "Christmas even services in your community".

Be sure to share a link to your favourite Christmas celebration. I'd love to hear your special little awesome celebration that you and your family enjoy this special time of year.

Just ten more posts of "awesome" inspired by Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" this season. Wishing everyone much joy this season.

@fergdevins


Nutcrackers

The Christmas Specials on television

Christmas Specials adorn the networks this time of year - but if you really want to binge on unstoppable Christmas Romance specials - tune in to the W Channel

Have you been watching your favourite Christmas specials on television this holiday season? Do you have one that is an absolute "must see" each year? Is there one that you wait until the family is together to ensure that you can all watch it together?

For years and years I would always watch the famous original "A Christmas Carol" on Christmas eve. It became quite a ritual. I've not done that for many years now. The other true favourite was always watching "The Sound of Music" during the holidays. There are so many timeless favourites to behold. "The Polar Express" has to go done as one of the modern-day classics. I remember seeing it for the first time in an Imax Theatre. The sound of the train whistling and the steam engine rolling on the rails was thunderous.

The past three years Kathy and I have come to like tuning in to the wonderful series of Christmas "movies" on the W Channel. There is a nightly feature of a wonderful group of holiday movies that just bring you to a feel-good state of mind before heading off to bed.

Neil Pasricha's "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome" points to "flipping channels and stumbling on that one Christmas special you loved as a kid, as one of those awesome moments of the holidays.

I agree wholeheartedly. Cheers to the season.

@fergdevins


Oven window

Looking through the little window in the oven

To accompany the fresh smell of your newly positioned Christmas tree - baking in the oven is one of those familiar treats of the season

Ah, the lure of Christmas and holiday baking. Do you recall those days of walking into the house after school and having the wonderful aroma of mother's, or grandmother's baking filling the home?

There were so many holiday treats to be made. Shortbread, Christmas fruit cake, banana cake, cherry centered shortbreads, chocolate shortbreads, jam cookies, Christmas pudding, homemade nuts and bolts. Each and every day would be a new set of delightful treats. We were always allowed to try a few, with the remainder being hustled off to the freezer. Naturally, a few samples would be consumed from the freezer in the days leading up to Christmas Day.

Neil Pasricha's reference in his "The Book of (Holiday) Awesome", pushes us back to reflect even further in history to think of when ovens did not exist and when families would have gathered around the fire to amaze at what was being prepared.

Regardless, this time of year brings that moment of intrigue when preparation for holiday feasts and dining are prepared.

Cheers to the oven and the joy that our home cooks prepare for us each Christmas and Holiday season.


I Survived and now Walking To Fight #BladderCancer

Walk to fight Bladder Cancer

September 23rd I will be walking to fight #bladdercancer in the annual Bladder Cancer Canada Awareness Walk.

I have walked in Kenora for the past three years, my summer residence community and "hometown". As Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada, I thought it was important for me to walk in the largest event in the country and return home to Toronto for the September event.

Toronto Walk

Deanne Puder is doing a masterful job of organizing the Toronto event, along with former supporters of the walk and our Bladder Cancer Canada Co-Founder David Guttman keeping her informed on best practices to date.

Corus Global

I am also delighted that Corus/Global is continuing as our national media partner. Troy Reeb has been our master of ceremonies in Toronto the past few years. Alan Carter of Global News will be taking on emcee responsibilities this year. It is great to have Alan on board and we extend thanks to Corus/Global for their much-valued continued support.

Why Walk?

Why Walk?  As a survivor of #bladdercancer, I was fortunate enough to have found out about Bladder Cancer Canada, very early after my diagnosis. The website offered some great resources, and Tammy Northam, the executive director, was very helpful in getting me started on setting up a fundraising walk in my summer residence of Kenora Ontario.

More than that - Bladder Cancer Canada truly makes a difference in the fight against #bladdercancer. They remain focused on patient support, raising awareness about the disease and funding research.

Earlier this year I became Chair of Bladder Cancer Canada's board of directors. I humbly take on this responsibility after the leadership of Ken Bagshaw and his predecessor Co-Founder of the organization - David Guttman.

I also remain inspired by Jack Moon, David's fellow co-founder, to whom I was referred to when I was "googling" and stumbled across the organization after reaching out to the American organization BCAN and the Inspire network.

By walking, and gaining the support of donors, I know that we will continue to build the impact that we have to provide for patients in the fight against bladder cancer in Canada. We will have more resources to raise awareness. We will have more resources to support our medical advisory and research boards and our Canadian researchers in the pursuit of finding a cure for bladder cancer.

I hope that YOU might consider SUPPORTING ME by joining me to walk in Toronto and/or supporting me by making a donation to my walk effort on my personal page at bccwalk.ca.

Thanks

Thank you for helping me and our volunteer board and patient support team make a real difference in the fight against bladder cancer.


Virgin Islands Heart and Soul - Open For Business

Three couples were fortunate enough to spend some time in the Virgin Islands this past spring. The Virgin Islands Heart and Soul is alive and well. They are truly open for business. Considering that there are 60 US Virgin Islands and 40 British Virgin Islands, the opportunities are simply endless, when pursuing your Atlantic or Caribbean dream sailing vacation.

After the hurricanes of 2017, we were truly re-considering whether we would take our trip at the end of February 2018. We were concerned about the devastation, safety, access and unsure of what might be open for business. Given that all of the major chains seemed to have been shuttered, and remained so - we were fortunate enough to find accommodation in St. Thomas at Olga's Fancy.

Olga's Fancy, a comfortable hotel in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands

To cut a long story of anticipation short, we were delighted upon arriving in St. Thomas to see that the heart and soul of the Virgin Islands were still warm and welcoming. Yes, there were obvious remnants of the damage and devastation. I will not play that down, given the obvious impact that it had on the people of the area. However, not one of them seemed reluctant to give details of their experience. In some ways, I'm sure that it helps to heal some of the sickening memories of damage and loss that they experienced. But their pride and passion for the islands and its hospitality and warmth live on.

After leaving Olga's Fancy, and a long morning coffee with Candy and Eddie, we headed for a wonderful local tour with Romeo to start our day with banana daiquiri's on the mountaintop overlooking Magen's beach. For some in our party as "newcomers" to Saint Thomas most things seemed just wonderful. For those who were returning visitors, it was evident to them the amount of change in the landscape where trees and growth had been hacked away like it had been trimmed with a giant whipper snipper. However, new green growth and colourful blossoms were popping everywhere.

overlooking Magen's Beach

Our Captain and crew (Matt and Casey) aboard the Island R&R based out of Compass Point Marina were quick to welcome us with open arms and hospitality.

We were on our catamaran for eight days. We met so many wonderful people along our journey. We found that so many of the local businesses had laboured for weeks and months on end to be open for business. It was obvious to us that it had been months of hard work and determination to get their businesses back up and running to meet visiting tourists from around the world. Although many of the large chain establishments remained closed as of early March, the locals with Virgin Islands Heart and Soul were bound and determined to return the area to its revered state of beauty, hospitality and seaside pleasures.

With excellent "cell service" in the area, our group had many friends checking in on us. Is that open? Is that still there? Did you see this? Did you go there? Wasnt that spot spectacular? Did you try this? We visited most of the delights that friends had suggested that we see in British and US Virgin Islands. The natural wonders of beaches, hiking paths, seaside coves and snorkelling were just spectacular. Where reconstruction was complete, the facilities were brand new and in perfect working order.

To help with your Virgin Islands trip planning, I thought I'd highlight some of the sites and places we visited, so that you can rest assured that they will be ready willing and able to welcome you on your upcoming visit to the Virgin Islands. The Virgin Islands heart and soul is alive and well and open for business.

Anegada - Cow Wreck Beach - Anne's place

Highlights of our trip to the Virgin Islands March 2018

Meeting our crew for the week we stopped in at the Dive Bar at Compass point Marina. Great drinks and hospitality abound.

We dined at XO Bistro in Red Hook and had nightcaps at Duffy's Love Shack - great live music.

First stop after leaving Compass Point Marina was Great St. James Island for afternoon snorkelling and the unique Pizza Pi "floating pizzeria".

At Jost Van Dyke the "bubbly pool" was a wonderful natural phenom. Don't go too close to the edge !

Customs "check in" for the UK on Jost Van Dyke - we never made it to Foxy's but heard it is spectacular.

In White Bay we were delighted with the famous Soggy Dollar Bar and Coco Loco's Beach Bar.

White Bay at Guana Island was just a most spectacular "walk on the beach".

At Trellis Bay we were truly fortunate to be there for the Full Moon Party - plan your visit around the moon.

We had a quick stop at Leverick Bay at Virgin Gorda. A beautiful marina and resort.

We met a wonderful and inspiring guide whose name is Gumption. Be sure to check out Gumption's very inspiring story and don't miss booking him for his tours and depth of knowledge. You will not be disappointed. Check out his Facebook page for more details.

Necker Island tour was a once in a lifetime experience, thanks to Matt and Casey arranging this with Gumption. Tortoises, Lemurs, an array of floral beauty, Pink Flamingos, white sandy beaches and examples of the good that Richard Branson has done for this world.

Prickly Pear Island stop was a wonderful shallow water beach for just lollygagging in the sea. There did not appear to be much re-built in early March, but the beach remains beautiful. The BVI Traveller has a great ongoing update on what's open or about to re-open.

Oh my gosh - Anegada - what an island paradise. We were treated to a wonderful beachside Lobsterfest and late night dancing at the Wonky Dog. The following day we toured up the shoreline to explore the Conch Mountains. In the afternoon we settled in at Cow Wreck Beach for a lazy afternoon of beach time, snorkelling and the delights of Anne's restaurant. We had a quick peek at the Anegada Beach Club - looks like a lot of fun too.

Unfortunately, we missed "The Baths" because of large swells that day, but everyone still raving about this natural attraction.

We moored at Cooper Island for lunch "onboard". News is that Cooper Island Beach Club has re-opened just recently.

Norman Island and Bight Bay made for a wonderful overnight and partial day visit. We hiked on Norman Island to experience some wonderful vistas. The Pirate's Bight restaurant and bar were open with usual food and drink delights.

After leaving Bight Bay we had an amazing snorkelling experience at Indian Rocks. A must do, if you are visiting Norman Island.

We moored as a "lone catamaran" near Ram Head. We then ventured in via dinghy to take in part of the Ram Head Trail experience near Salt Pond.

The other delight in this area of St. John Island is the "Drunk Bay" where you will find creations from those who have visited prior to you, and an opportunity to create your own signature of your visit on this stretch of rocky beach and coral remnants.

On our final full day of sailing, we stopped at "Booby Rock" for some spectacular snorkelling once again.

There were rare occasions when we left the catamaran for food and drink, due to the wonderful hospitality of Matt and Casey, however, they highly recommended a visit to Cruz Bay on St. John. We had a local beer at the  St. John Brewers' tap room. The true delight was up the Longboard Coastal Cantina in Cruz Bay where we enjoyed some refreshing cocktails and awesome appetizers.

Our final overnight mooring was along Honeymoon Beach in Caneel Bay at St. John Island.

With one final mooring and snorkel, we were treated to a spot just off Secret Harbour Beach resort in St. Thomas. A calm bay with wonderful snorkelling delights below. A fitting "last snorkel" for the group.

In Closing...

So there is just a quick snapshot of the wonderful heart and soul of the British and US Virgin Islands that we were able to enjoy in early 2018. I hope that I have demonstrated and assured readers that the Virgin Islands are truly open for business. Enjoy planning your vacation. Don't hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance in answering any of your questions. Enjoy the sun and sea!  @FergDevins @TravelFerg

Matt and Casey - crew aboard the Island R&R 46 foot motor sailing catamaran