So I went to Atlanta in August


Part of my job entails traveling around Canada and the United States to teach people how to use the custom software we make. I’m usually gone at least one week a month, sometimes two. Most of the time I end up in Toronto, for some reason (and other than hanging out with my squishee Chel I’m not a huge fan of the city). Or I end up in places that would be nice if I weren’t there at that particular time. Like when I went to Winnipeg. In February.


Or Atlanta, in August. If you follow me on instagram you may have seen a daily photo diary I posted while I was there, but I thought I’d fill you in a bit more on the trip. If I’m traveling more, then I can’t be cooking and crafting so you’ll just have to get me as tour guide instead sometimes. 20150819_081822 Anyway, I went to Atlanta in the last week of August. I thought about posting this back then but I got busy and you know how stuff like this happens …


If you’re not used to southern American climates, I wouldn’t recommend going to Atlanta in August. Every day I was there, it was 100% humidity with lows of about 29°C and highs of 35°C. I spent much of my day sweating while traveling between air-conditioned locations. And every night it rained. Like, FLOODED. I had to learn how to un-soak my shoes with my hotel hairdryer. Every night.


But Atlanta (at least, the downtown area where I stayed), is a very interesting city. To give you a bit of background, all the architecture within the central city limits is all new. Atlanta, a railroad town, was invaded during the American Civil War in 1864 and they burned down EVERYTHING. So Atlantans don’t have a huge attachment to historical architecture, and the modernistic style that has taken over much of the downtown core makes me feel a little bit like I’m walking through some dystopian film set. I was working in the Capital Hill area so most of the buildings I passed every day looked like this.

Atlanta 2015

Atlanta 2015

I would hang out with Jimmy Carter in the mornings and check my email before going to work.

Atlanta 2015

I never notice all the big grandstanding touristy things. The stuff I notice when I travel is all little. Like this tiny mosaic embedded in a sidewalk.


And the fact that all the shrubbery is holly. ALL OF IT. I’m used to just seeing this stuff at Christmas.


This 9/11 tribute really struck me.


I went to the Georgia Aquarium as well. I did think that some of the tanks looked a little small for the size and amount of animals in them, but the displays were cool.




You can also go behind the scenes and see how everything is maintained.


When I left the aquarium it was absolutely pouring rain. Of course.


I also visited the Coca-Cola Museum, which is neat. Coke was born in Atlanta, and you can learn all about the history of it in the place. You also get to sample Coke products from all over the world.




And the gift shop is a little nuts.


Of course when I left it was pouring rain. If you’re planning to do more than one touristy thing in Atlanta (I would have but I ran out of time), then I would recommend getting a CityPass. These attractions are expensive and this will save you a bit of cash.


I also popped into Twin Smokers BBQ and had the absolute best bourbon milkshake of my life. I highly recommend. Plus they give you a carousel of the barbecue sauces of your choice.


Everyone was so nice. I gave directions to another lady visiting the city (thank you Google Maps) and dinner recommendations to a Floridian tourist. At one point I was walking down the sketchy part of Peachtree on my way to work and I stopped to answer a text message. One of the habitants of the street asked me if I was okay and if I needed help, simply because I’d stopped walking. Even the rampant homeless population was nothing but cordial.

Atlanta 2015

Thanks for a great visit Atlanta!


I do not know this Instant Gram of which you speak.

I did it. I did the thing. Trav and Chel have been harassing me independently for a while to do the whole social media photo-majig and finally when I was last in Toronto with Chel I let her browbeat me into signing up.

And so.

Now you can follow me in this instantly-gramming extravaganza. Both allythebell and alidoesit were taken. So I’m now alidoesit.herself.

But it doesn’t matter. I’m on there. Follow me and things. You can see the link in the sidebar to your left.

This is the first picture I posted:

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Alison Bell (@alidoesit.herself) on

August in Photos: the Skinny

You may recall me saying that I was going to take a photo a day for the month of August, seeing as it was going to be such a momentous month.  Well, here’s my little August gallery.  You can see the ones that didn’t make the cut on my Flickr here.

1 August:

1 August 2013 13

Dad admiring the new paint job on the old Cape Spear lighthouse.

2 August:

2 August 2013 2

Last day at work in the Lawffice Liberry.  For five years this was my exclusive domain.

3 August:

3 August 2013 41

Met a very calm snowshoe hare at the Salmonier Nature Park.

4 August:

4 August 2013

It was raining, so I painted the bathroom. Apparently yellow wasn’t neutral enough. Oh well.

5 August:

5 August 2013

Still raining. HARD. We stayed inside.

6 August:

6 August 2013 2

Dad and I went to the Crow’s Nest (a members-only club for naval officers) in January of 2008 when we were thinking of moving here. Today we bookended our time in Newfoundland with another visit. Here is the angle from the “hidden” door down the stairway.

7 August:

7 August 2013 31

The first Wednesday in August (weather permitting) is Regatta Day, the oldest regatta in North America (195 years old in 2013).  This is our view from blueberry picking up behind the Johnson Geo Centre.

8 August:

8 August 2013 4

After some hectic back and forth, we sent Gren off on the plane to stay with my parents. This is one of the extremely nice and helpful security officers using cable ties to make sure Gren stays put.

9 August:

9 August 2013 3

We had to re-paint my office to a more neutral colour. I was trying to get excess paint off my brush.

10 August:

10 August 2013 3

Down to the essentials now in our pantry: booze, Oreos, ramen …

11 August:

11 August 2013 2

Our house is surrounded by trees, and the moving shadows the sun creates as it shines through the blowing leaves is quite spectacular.

12 August:

12 August 2013 2

Today I packed up the kitchen. My parents bought these plates at the Denby factory when we lived in England over 30 years ago. I bet they’ve moved almost as many times as I have.

13 August:

13 August 2013 6

One last walk along the jetty after breakfast at the downtown Cora’s.

14 August:

14 August 2013

I had a job interview over Skype today, so this was where I spent the most important part of my afternoon.

15 August:


Moving day. The movers were late and when they arrived they were unaware they were supposed to be moving the whole house so it was a little frazzling but we got it done.

16 August:


Sun in an empty room. My favourite Weakerthans song (which is based in turn on this painting).

17 August:


Our first morning in Ottawa.  Gren was very happy to have us back with him.

18 August:


Brunch at the new home of Mags and her boyfriend, the Flying Dutchman. YUM FRESH FRUIT!

19 August:


Best shawarma in the city is Castle Shawarma on Rideau Street. They have spicy garlic sauce that is incredible.

20 August:


Today we got the Pie fitted for some suits to wear to interviews at Moores. Looking pretty slick.

21 August:


My dad was painting the woodwork on the ground floor. He may have accidentally painted me in passing.

22 August:

22 August 2013

Our fourth wedding anniversary. Crazy how time flies.

23 August:

23 August 2013

Grenadier reunited with his sister Bakhita at Bruce Pit.  Both of them reunited with some mud.  This is the picture I took BEFORE Bakhita stuck herself in the middle of an enormous puddle and refused to come out.

24 August:

Two Processor Pies

Gardened with Mum today. Harvested a ton of rhubarb. Obviously I made pie.

25 August:

25 August 2013


26 August:

26 August 2013

Out for a misty stroll on the Ottawa River Parkway. Reminds me of St. John’s.

27 August:

Star Wars Exhibit 27 August 2013

Caught the Star Wars Identities Exhibition at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum. Epic. Like, literally.

28 August:

Cottage Life

We weeded out the path at the back of my parents’ house today, and got to use the weed torch on the remainders. I love setting things on fire.

29 August:

Cottage Life

Hanging out at a cottage with some friends. Gren actually swam voluntarily.

30 August:

Cottage Life

Cottage life: early morning on Mississippi Lake.

31 August:


The Pie started growing this beard at the end of July, just to see if he could. He’s a little tired of it now so I recorded it for posterity and he’ll shave it off tomorrow.

And that was August!

Portland in Review

Marriott View

Aaaand we’re back. Hard to believe that I woke up Monday morning on one side of the continent and then I went to sleep at night on the complete opposite side of the continent. Four airports in four different states/provinces and two different countries, and a four-and-a-half-hour time difference later and here we are in St. John’s again.

The trip was GREAT. Doodle and the Cyclist got married and we were so happy to be able to be a part of their beautiful day. The weather was awesome, if a little hot, and nothing went horribly wrong. And I got a new camera out of it.  What more could you ask for?

New camera

When we arrived in Portland, the Cyclist picked us up and took us to the apartment he and Doodle share, where Doodle was in the midst of getting her wedding mehndi done. Mehndi, if you didn’t know, is that lovely temporary henna tattoo that goes on your hands and feet. You can read more about it here.


We crashed and burned at this point, having been up for what felt like forever, and Doodle went to bed with toilet paper on her arms to protect the design.  This is the next day, when the Cyclist helped her scrape off the dried henna paste with a credit card.  You can see that the design is a bright orange at first, and it will darken over the next few days.


That first day the Pie and I wandered about and tested out the new camera a bit.  This is a shot of him actually smiling (sort of), which is rare in photos I take of him.  Normally he just looks grumpy.


Portland is famous for its many bridges that cross the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.  This is the Steel Bridge, one of my favourites.


And the Freemont, which is Doodle’s favourite.


Portland is also an interesting mix of old and new.  I love old business advertisements painted on the brick buildings.


At this point the other bridesmaids started to arrive, and we surprised Doodle with a dinner at Jake’s with all her female crew from town.


Next day we set off for manicures and pedicures in the morning (my first experience, and I may well be addicted now) and then back to Doodle’s place for mehndi in the afternoon. Here is Sam, one of the bridesmaids, getting her henna on.


What a beautiful job!


The artist, for those of you in the Portland area, is Wendy Rover of Roving Horse Henna and she was lovely. I think you have to be lovely if you are hanging over someone’s body for the better part of an hour.

Here’s me getting mine done.


And the final result:


In case you’re wondering, getting this stuff done is a very pleasant experience. Wendy mixes tea tree oil and all sorts of goodies into her henna paste, so it feels cool and refreshing on your skin, not itchy at all. Of course, you have to leave it on for several hours, and you can’t bend your fingers in case the drying paste cracks. So it makes things interesting when you are trying to do things later on in the day. The Pie managed to shoe horn me into one of his new hoodies (we went to the Nike employee store and took advantage of a deep discount and Oregon’s tax-freeness, hence my full Nike attire) and we got some ice cream to eat in the sun. This was when I discovered that eating ice cream while exposing henna to the sun is a good way to make it all fall off.

Nike'd up.

I also made the mistake of discovering my new favourite store, Cargo Imports. They specialize in new and old Chinese imports. I may have purchased some things. The Pie was particularly taken with the sinks made of petrified wood.


And I loved the hundreds of tiny apothecary bottles in a big glass case.


And then I had to go and pet a corgi puppy. His name is Winston.

Portland Corgi

Which meant that by the time we got back to the apartment my henna paste was a lost cause.

So this is what it looks like when the paste is scraped off.


And it will darken, and look lovely and brown.


The day before the wedding, we took Doodle on her “bachelorette,” which was a tour of three local wineries.


This first place was where Doodle and the Cyclist got engaged.


This was indeed a tire swing.


And an absolutely enormous cookie. I saved half for the Pie.


And this is Mount Hood. I’ve been there.


Some barrels.


And some more barrels.


And some vines. No grapes yet.


It was a beautiful sunshiny day and pretty much all of us (Doodle excluded) got a sunburn.


Then before we knew it, it was the wedding day!

First we had our hair done …


… and then our makeup. Doodle of course didn’t need much — she is a very beautiful lady.


Here’s a closeup of Doodle’s henna, nice and dark.


Then it was off to the World Forestry Center to get ready for pictures and the ceremony itself.

World Forestry Centre

We did pictures before the ceremony to save time, but first Doodle was dressed in traditional kimono by an old friend of her mother’s.

World Forestry Centre

All set!

World Forestry Centre

While she was being photographed outside, the Cyclist arrived with his posse. We ran interference and made him cover his face so he wouldn’t see her before he was supposed to.

World Forestry Centre

Then it was time for the wedding dress.

World Forestry Centre

We all took a turn at the laces, but Sam did it the best.

World Forestry Centre

And then things started to get busy and I had to be photographed as well so this is my last photo of the wedding.

World Forestry Centre

But it was such a great experience. I’ve known Doodle since we were fourteen, so it was really neat to see her all grown up and to see how fantastic she and the Cyclist are together, and to meet all her really nice West coast friends. Sorry, I’m gushing. I’ll stop now.

On our final day in Portland we decided to check out the Portland Pride Parade, and it was a really good day for it. Not hot like the day before, but warm enough that everyone, even those who were scantily clad, was comfortable.

Portland Pride

I must have taken two hundred photos of the parade, which was fantastic. You can see more of them on my Flickr page starting here. It was really nice to see so many religious groups out in support of their parishioners.

Portland Pride

The old cars were something to see.

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

As were the costumes.

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

And there were so many colours!

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

Portland Pride

This flag in particular caught my eye.  I am thinking of making a DIY out of something similar.

Portland Pride

And so many loving families out and about. I think this is my favourite photo of the bunch.

Portland Pride

What a great trip. The Pie and I can’t wait to go back!

A Trip to Ferryland

The day dawned foggy and damp but we were convinced it would improve, so the Pie and I piled Rusty, Mags, and Gren into our rented car and drove an hour and a half south of St. John’s to the town of Ferryland (population: ~529).  This was the third time the Pie and I had made it to Ferryland, but the first time that we were really able to appreciate it.  On previous occasions, we had arrived in town after an afternoon of iceberg hunting and were too tired to take the time to walk around this historical settlement.  This year is a bad one for icebergs, however, so we were rested and refreshed and raring to go.

I’ll give you a little background on Ferryland.

Originally an acclaimed fishing location for migratory French and Portuguese fishermen at the end of the sixteenth century, the area, known as “Farilham” by the Portuguese and “Forillon” by the French, was granted to the London and Bristol Company in the early 1610s.  “Ferryland” is the Anglicization of those names.

In 1620, the land was granted to George Calvert, the first Lord Baltimore (there are nearby settlements called Calvert and Baltimore, respectively, and yes, this is the same Lord Baltimore of Baltimore, MD).  In 1623 Calvert appointed a dude named Edward Wynne to establish a colony there, which grew into one of the first successful European establishments in North America.  In 1623 as well, King James I granted Calvert a charter creating the Province of Avalon.  This gave Calvert carte blanche to control all administrative and territorial matters in the area, and he chose Ferryland as its principal settlement.

Like many settlements in Newfoundland, the rich fishing grounds around Ferryland were much sought after, and Ferryland suffered a raid from the Dutch in the 1670s, before being decimated by New France in 1696.  It was soon reoccupied, and has remained so to this day, predominantly by Irish and English descendants.  There is an active archeological dig site, which shows you how Lord and Lady Baltimore lived nearly four hundred years ago. 

There is lots to see in Ferryland.  Unfortunately, when we went this time all of the exhibits were closed due to a water problem.  Still, the historic Ferryland Museum has an immense collection of artifacts recovered from the dig site, and is a historical artifact itself, dating back to 1916.

The principal attraction in Ferryland, however, is the Ferryland Head Lighthouse. 

A two-kilometre walking trail stretches across The Downs and along a narrow strip of land sandwiched between two green coves. 

A stunted forest opens onto a rocky promontory, atop which sits the lighthouse itself, a sturdy red tower with a squat white house attached.

If you go into the lighthouse, you’ll meet the Lighthouse Ladies, who, for $25 a person, will provide you with a scrumptious picnic lunch.  

They’ll give you a signal flag and a picnic blanket and send you outside to find a good spot in the cushy undergrowth to have your lunch. 

Once you’re settled, they’ll bring you your lunch in a basket: hearty sandwiches on thick oatmeal bread, rich pasta salad, melt-in-your-mouth desserts, and fresh, tart lemonade, served in Mason jars.  Just some more shots of this amazing al fresco meal:

After your post-lunch nap (the ground really is nice and soft here, believe it or not), you can explore the area around the lighthouse.

This is Rusty and Mags getting their first taste of the North Atlantic.

Some radioactively green algae:

A rusty thingamajig:

An awesome example of geological strata:Then you have the long trek back to civilization.  But so worth it.

Check it out for yourself!

Lighthouse Picnics

Ferryland Municipal Website

Ferryland Wikipedia Page

Colony of Avalon Archaeological Site

Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Ferryland Page

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