Friday, January 27, 2017

Dunamase Castle Off my List

Have you ever seen something on tv or read about about a place that you absolutely had to add to your own wanderlust list?  Do you ever follow through and actually visit those places?  Like most travel junkies my list of places to visit and sites to see is long and ever expanding.  I consult it when I am planning a trip and sometimes even use that list to determine where I want to visit next.  It is a valuable tool to help travel enthusiasts and wanna-be travellers to keep organized.  I use a simple spreadsheet program to keep mine organized, I also have a bit of an obsession with spreadsheets. 

I recently had the chance to cross one of items off my list.  It was a recent addition that I added after watching "Tales of Irish Castles" on Netflix over the summer.  One of the episodes was focused on Dunamase Castle, a ruin on the edge of Dublin in County Laois, perched atop the Rock of Dunamase at 46 meters (151 feet) above the flat plain where even on an overcast day you can see for kilometres.   
While the castle lays in ruins it is still an excellent example of a Norman Castle dating back to the 12th century.  As a Canadian, where we are celebrating 150 years as a country, it is hard to wrap my head around the age of something built nine centuries ago.  

Designated as a National Monument of Ireland, it is open 24 hours a day to the public and well worth the detour off the N80 for a look around or just add it to your list.  What’s on your wanderlust list? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

Over the past year my job has taken me to the Eastern Coast of Canada a few times and this summer I was able to visit Prince Edward Island, Canada’s smallest province for the first time.  PEI is a wonderful place to spend some time in the summer, full of friendly people, historical significance and some of the prettiest scenery in the country it’s easy to get caught up in the relaxed vibe offered. 

Based in Charlottetown for a week, amid meetings and events I took some time to get out and see the city by foot.  The tranquility of a walk along the boardwalk beside the ocean was an excellent way to unwind each evening.  The boardwalk stretches for kilometers along the shoreline providing picture perfect views of red soil, historic homes and national monuments.  There are clearly marked walking trails around the city focusing on different aspects of the culture; painted lines on the sidewalk makes them easy to follow and they vary in length. All of which made it very easy to hit my goal of 10,000 steps a day even with meetings and obligations all day.  

Known as the “Birthplace of Confederation”, Charlottetown’s history is Canada’s history.  The original settlement dates back to a military settlement established in 1720.  It was in the Provincial Legislation Building in the city that the founding fathers of Canada first met to discuss the uniting of Upper Canada and Lower Canada.    

The Eat Local movement is strong on PEI and all restaurants seem to serve fresh seafood and other delights.  There is a strong sense of local pride.  Ask questions, look for labelling and enjoy the fares produced just down the road from where you are eating it.  Patios are ever popular in the city and a lovely way to pass a warm summer night with friends; new or old. 

No visit to PEI is complete without a stop at COWS Ice Cream, which originated on the Island.  The creamy, luxurious ice cream is an indulgence worth having. Labelled as one of the best ice cream’s in the world; there is a flavour to suit every taste and multiple locations around the city and province make it easily accessible.  The COWS Factory on the west side of Charlottetown is an interesting stop to see how the ice cream, cheese, butter and famous t-shirts are made. 

If you haven’t already been go and visit the Island for the history, the natural beauty, the foodie culture or the fact that you can drive around the island in a day.  Just go. 


Saturday, April 2, 2016

First few days in Dubai

I have been in Dubai for three days now and so far it has been nothing like I expected and exactly as I expected:

Coming into the man-made
Dubai marina by ferry
The buildings are big!  So very big and there are so many of them.  The city stretches on for kilometres along the coastline and skyscrapers tower along the water from end to end.

Construction is everywhere and the recent slump in oil prices does not appear to affect it much.  Or perhaps it has and this is what a slump looks like.  The city of Dubai, apart from the historic district, did not exist 20 years ago.

The people are wonderfully friendly and helpful.  English is spoken by everyone I have encountered and all signs are in both Arabic and English.  That has made travelling fairly easy.  I have been asked daily about travelling alone but everyone has been more curious than anything.  It has not been as bad as I had expected.

Gold Souk
ATM machines that dispense gold bars do exist and there are a number of them around the city that I have seen.

It's a hard city to get around without a car.  I supposed a city built around the oil industry would be set up to drive around, walking is hard as everything is spread out and sidewalks are not very common.

People in Dubai do not pay income tax nor is there a value added tax on goods, this was put in place to attract people to work here.

It rains here a lot....well not really but it did yesterday.  All day and the day before had on and off  showers, so much for coming to the desert to get away from rainy Ontario.   Next week is looking better.
Burj Al Arab in the clouds 

Tim Hortons has locations all across the city, feels like home with a coffee shop on every corner.  I can now rest easy that I know what Tim Horton's looks like in Arabic.

Everything strives to be bigger and better but there is very little original architecture.

I found a coffee museum today, all else is irrelevant.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Nuffield Report is now online

It has been two and half years in the making but my Nuffield Report, the basis for my travels over the past two years is completed, reviewed and published.  I am very proud of this summary of my findings and how it all came together.  Based on everything I experienced I recommend the following for the Canadian beef industry.

  Enhance and expand Product of Canada guidelines and investigate the opportunity for an independent organization to oversee and promote the brand on all commodities
  Track greater data through our national traceability system and by requiring additional information such as a date of birth assigned to every tag
  Have a functional national database to trace value added data and enhance it based on specific branded beef programs needs
  As an unified industry continue to work with foodservice and retail outlets to ensure information they present to consumers is verifiable and accurate
  Enhance and expand regional eat local programs to encourage consumers to source local products and get to know the person behind the food
  Redesign labels on beef products and packaging to provide additional information to consumers
  Ensure beef producers in Canada understand how important traceability and consumer trust is and the need to keep that trust

The full report is available on the Nuffield International website.  Feel free to email me if you have any questions or want to discuss anything in the report with me.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

 As 2016 continues to unfold, I have been able to take some time and reflect on what an incredible journey the past year was.  2015 will forever be the year I finished by Nuffield project, the year I spent an incredible six weeks in South America and the year I moved back to Ontario to farm.  A truly remarkable year and I can’t help but wonder what 2016 will bring.  New challenges, new opportunities and new adventures very likely.  
 My Nuffield report “Should my beef have a barcode?” will be published very soon and that will be my last Nuffield or production type post here, this site moving forward will be devoted to stories and updates on travels around the world.   

 The past two years have seen me travel over 120,000 kilometres on 37 flights and 150  nights away from home.  It has been a roller coaster ride of highs, lows and epic adventures, most of which I have outlined in the posts here.  The rest will only be told only over a few beers.  I want to wish everyone all the best in 2016.  I will add these final words of wisdom to close 2015 “Travel is glamorous only in retrospect” Paul Theroux and “Getting out of your comfort zone can change your life” Arlene Dickinson.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Top 10 Travel Moments

Continuing my Top 10 Lists is the ten most incredible things I experienced in the past two years.   Nuffield trips are centred around research, meetings and learning opportunities.  However, mixing in a little fun and filling half a day until the next meeting or coming into a city a day earlier allows for some sight seeing and rest.  I had a number of "can't believe I am here" moments while travelling,  narrowing down this list was a real challenge.

Top 10 Travel Moments:

10.  Random Roadside Attractions, Australia - The Big Guitar, Big Mower, Big Macadamia Nut, Big Pineapple, Big Ayrshire all things I came across while driving down the highway in Australia.

Henry VII's clock, Hampton Court
9.  Cattle Auction, Kostanay, Kazakhstan - While some people may think a cattle auction is not that exciting especially when it is in a language you do not understand, I found it fascinating.  The entire spectacle of the day was incredible as us as Canadian guests were treated as royalty.  A video of lot 1 selling is posted on Youtube.  

8.  In and Around London, United Kingdom - Hampton Court, Jane Austen House, Walking along the Thames River - London and the surrounding area was incredible.  The history and the natural beauty of the area was something to see and I want to go back when I have more time.  

7.  Hong Kong Disneyland - After almost five weeks on the road I and a few days in Hong Kong, I needed a break.  Meetings fell through and I ended up with some time on my hands, what a better way to kill a day then at Disneyland.

6.  Skiing in Santiago, Chile - Conditions may not have been ideal but two days of skiing in the Andes was quite the experience.  The Andes are extensive and rugged and stunning.  

5.  Uruguay - For those of you who I have talked to since I returned home in August, you know how much I loved the Uruguay section of my recent trip.  The city of Montevideo was incredible and the countryside even more so.  This is a country I will return to soon.  

4.  Hiking along the Great Wall of China - On a somewhat clear day which made it even better, then coming down through a small scale traditional farm in the Chinese countryside, it is a day I will not forget.


3.  Sunrise at Uluru, Northern Territory, Australia - I remember this day well, after a bad night sleep in a hostel the last thing I wanted to do that morning was get up before the sun was up and drive over to the viewing area.  But I willed myself to get out of bed that morning and I was glad I did.  The series of photos shows the entire sunrise over Uluru on a beautiful fall morning.

2. Igauzu Falls, Brazil - The pictures of these waterfalls do not do them justice. It is hard to even take them all in let alone describe.  Check out the video.

1.  Eiffel Tower, Paris, France - Paris in the fall in the rain.  It only gets slighty more cliche than that (it could have been the spring) but the sun came out when I arrived at the tower allowing me to take the stairs which was an experience in itself.  An iconic moment at an iconic location.  With one day in Paris it was the only place to go.