Graffiti Alley



Graffiti was one of the first art forms I was interested in as a kid despite at the time it was considered nothing but vandalism. As a child in the 80s I poured over books and articles of 70s and 80s NY subway art, incorporating the influence into some of my own art work now and then, intrigued by stories of gangs of artists risking arrest and possibly even life to express their art form but judged by society as nothing but vandals and degenerates!


Wherever you go, which ever city you set foot in there will be graffiti or street art as it sometimes now referred to. Some of it crude and slap dash, a territorial marking and some of it intricate and well planned out but these days these days graffiti is a little more respected as an art form.


On our last day in Toronto when we have to find something to do between checking out of our hotel and checking in to our flight, we headed down to graffiti alley in The Fashion District and I noticed a real nostalgic theme when wandering down the alley, there was a real 80s influence to some of the work.. Here is a little of what I caught my eye.

















Is someone who likes being in the woods.

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Ever since I was a child I have had a fascination with the woods, not in a fairy tale kind of way, I feel instantly connected with nature, way more than I do with humans.

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Humans assume too much, they go against the grain, they require too much energy to deal with. Nature is the opposite, it is restorative, it offers no opinions or criticism, it just lets you be.

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I like being in the woods, I like the solitude, I like the peace it gives you.

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Psithurism is the sound of leaves rustling as the wind blows through the trees, it is the one of the most comforting of sounds to me.

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Sunlight glimmering through the leaves, the Japanese have a word for that – Komorebi.

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In German the word for the feeling of being alone in the woods and connected to nature is Waldeinsamkeit

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Shinrinyoku is the Japanese word for having been forest bathing, ie taking a relaxing trip to the forest to improve health and well-being.

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Location: Mount Royal park in Montreal (not technically a forest but close enough especially for city dwellers like me!)

Photos: By me.

Travel Diaries – Vancouver, Canada

Welcome part two of our trip to Canada and we pick up where we left off, leaving Vancouver island and heading to the mainland. So we left Victoria and headed to Vancouver City or Van City as some like to call it. We took the ferry from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. 

After we arrived we then all squished on a bus to the train station and caught the skyline into the city and then walked to our hotel. The bus ticket in zoned and includes the sky train. We then walked up to our hotel because it said about fifteen minutes, but it was fifteen minutes up hill!!!We stayed at the Listel Hotel on Robson Street in downtown Vancouver, it is dubbed Vancouver’s most art filled hotel as each floor has a different art theme and each room is filled with art work from Canadian and International artisits. We stayed on the Gallery floor had an small exhibition by Cecilia Z Miguez, her sculptures are amazing.

Also loved that we had a view of the mountains from our hotel window.

Day 6 – We went to Stanley Park, which by staying downtown was only about a twenty minute walk from out hotel.

We decided to walk up to prospect point and along the way we stopped off at The Aquarium

Which was okay until we got to the whale and dolphin enclosures and I got really sad because the pools were far too small for these magnificent animals, it was the equivalent of me sitting in a kiddies paddling pool and they didn’t look very happy either. I’m all for animal conservation but give them a decent home.

I like Stanley Park, even though it’s right next to the City, when you’re standing in the middle of it you feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere.

We wandered off the main track and stopped off at Beaver Lake.

We finally made it to Prospect Point and there is restaurant and cafe where you can stop off for a bite to eat, the view is amazing.

The sea walk is popular with bike riders and you can hire these at the beginning of the circuit, you may also need to help up the occasional learner roller blader!

The shores are decorated with mollusc shells.

The Lions Gate Bridge

We only walked part of the sea wall but to walk round the whole way takes about 2-3 hours or a bike ride is about and hour.

Day 7 – In the morning we went Fauberg for breakfast, they do a lovely selection of macaroons and then we headed across the road Vancouver Art Gallery which is well worth the visit, I really enjoyed the collection curated by Myfanwy MacLeod and ended up learning about murdered playmate Dorothy Stratten and then ended up ordering the book. We made it to one of the Botanical gardens but realized as it was Sunday if we wanted to make it to the Museum of Anthropology we would have to skip the gardens, so after consulting google and negotiating the bus system we finally got there and managed not to get lost on the university campus.

 The Rose Gardens at UBC

Sculptures at the Museum of Anthropolgy

Day 8- Today was a bit of a lazy day as I kept waking up at 4.30 am every morning, so we headed over to The Scotia Theatre to watch the Raid 2 and then did a bit of shopping at the House of Vintage on Granville Street just five minutes walk from our hotel so had to visit. Normally I would have hunted out all the vintage stores in Van City but one, we were short on time and two, we were heading to a vintage festival in Vegas and so had to think about space in my suitcase I ended up only walking out with two dresses for me and Tim’s first vintage shirt for Viva Las Vegas 17.

Used House of Vintage is quite big and filled with clothes from all decades, the staff are lovely and helpful and you can take as many things into the changing rooms as you like, my only comment is that it tends to be on the more expensive side than most vintage shops probably because it’s on the main shopping street, also they seemed to think it was okay to sell damage clothes and charge the same because it’s ‘vintage’. There is a big difference between wear and tear from age and downright damaged. I paid a little over the odds for the coral Judy Lynn dress which does need some repair but coming across vintage clothes that fit me are far and few between so I took it because we all know I’m handy with a needle and thread!
Day 9 – Today was a shopping a day, we headed over to Fouberg again for breakfast as Tim really liked the place and this time we had some of the macaroons this time as well. We had dinner at Donburi Ya opposite our hotel and had some excellent udon noodle soup, it’s very small but also does take out and is worth a visit.
I wish I had more time to explore Van City, there seems to be quite a bit to do and we never even made it to Gas Town, Sunset Beach or Granville Island, so I guess we’ll just have to go back!
Next on the Travel Diaries, Part 3 Las Vegas.
Natasha x

Travel Diaries – Victoria, British Columbia

 This year we had our first big holiday together, as we chose Canada and America and we had three main stops, I thought I’d break it down into smaller posts. So last year we decided to book Viva Las Vegas, as we were travelling quite far we decided to make a proper adventure of it and explore Canada as well. We’d been talking about visiting Canada for a while so it made sense if were going to be travelling to America as well. We had decided on Vancouver and our first stop was Victoria the capital of British Columbia on Vancouver Island.

Day 1 -If we had been a little more organised, we would have landed in Victoria instead of Vancouver but we had already booked the flights and at the last minute we decided to go to Victoria first when booking our hotels, as we didn’t want to be rushing to the airport to catch our flight to Vegas.

After many hours travelling which included a train, a plane, a coach, a ferry and a taxi cab we finally made it to our hotel,  I think we spent in excess of 24 hours travelling. We landed in Vancouver and  decided to catch the coach to Vancouver island but because of the timing it dropped us off that the ferry, we later found out that we could have caught the sky train to the bus terminus, caught a bus, then the ferry and then another bus and saved ourselves about half the money but we know for next time. The ferry trip is about an hour and half and travels through the majestic islands of the Juan De Fuca Straight, which we didn’t get to see because it was night and pitch black apart from the occasional flashing buoy but there are lots of on board services, hot meals, shops, view decks and free wifi. When we landed at Swartz bay we couldn’t be bothered to get a bus and managed to grab the last cab by sharing with another passenger that was only going a couple of blocks, Canadians are really friendly like that. When we finally reached the hotel in Victoria and checked in, we basically just crashed out!

Day 2 – After fuelling up on Breakfast poutine with sausage gravy at the hotel restaurant, it was a bit wet so we headed over to the Royal BC Museum and had a wander round the gardens and learnt about First Native culture.

After lunch we headed over the the Butterfly Gardens as we got a discount voucher with our entrance ticket to the museum and we also ended up getting a free bus ride because we missed our connecting bus due to a delay so we got a free transfer.

The butterfly garden is quite small but you can watch butterflies emerging from their cocoons, they also have flamingos, tortoises and a some parrots.

Day 3 – We went back to the harbour and took a boat tour round the gorge, we went by sea taxi which offers a hop on, hop off service at several points round the gorge. We were given quite a detailed history of Victoria and the gorge and it’s development over the years, worth the $25 and we pretty much had the boat to ourselves as it was the beginning of the season and they had a pick up half way round.

You can also go whale watching from the harbour and they let you know if whales have been sighted in the area that day before you book your trip.

And catch a sea plane, Victoria Harbour is active landing strip and has been known to be shut down due to whales on the runway!

Afterwards we headed down to China Town and had lunch a the Venus Sophia Tea Room which was so lovely we ended going back again. They have an amazing selection of teas, my favourite was the Misty Mountain a blend of mint, camomile, rosebud and honeybush, the green tea shortbread is also worthy of a try.


On the walk back I managed to find some vintage and thrift stores (no matter where I am in the world I just seem to find these places), we then headed to the Bug Museum which is really more kids but has an impressive ant far. Whilst wandering round looking for somewhere to eat for dinner we found a sewing cafe run by a woman who used to live in Bath! And yes I did buy some material.

Day 4 – We walked up to Craigdarroch Castle, which is really more of a big fancy mansion house that a castle but none the less impressive. Each room is set up as a still life and the view from the top isn’t bad either. there is much grounds or gardens to walk around as they had been sold off.

We also visited Government House to look at the gardens which weren’t quite in bloom yet as it’s was still early spring but there is a good look out point where you can get a view of the mountains and the fir trees are pretty amazing, they make Canada smell so good.

We then walked back down to Chinatown for lunch at Venus Sophia again and then took a walk round the harbour from Dallas Street and ended up at Fisherman’s Wharf to see the harbour seals.


The wharf has quite a few places to eat and stuff to do but by the time we had got down there things were closing up for the day. If you go during the day you can feed the seals, they hang around blowing air bubbles and entertaining people even after the feeding times are over. You can also spot the occasional sea lion and there was an abundance of brightly coloured star fish and fish to spot as well. A gentle stroll round the harbour to fisherman’s wharf took about 30-40 minutes, longer because we kept stopping to take photos but it a nice walk.

How cute are these floating homes?

On the way back I discovered Maple Macchiatos at Starbucks, my waistline will never forgive me.

Day 5 – We made our way back to Van City. We took the bus to Swartz Bay and then the ferry. This was way cheaper than what we paid on the way in and our lesson has been learnt for next time.  The ferry costs about £16 for foot passengers and as it was daytime, we got to see the beautiful view as we sailed through the straight to the mainland.

Victoria is perfect for a relaxing holiday, it’s laid back and the folks are very friendly and welcoming, it pretty and clean and as we arrived in spring all the Japanese maple, cherry blossom and magnolia were in full bloom and of course. Spring is quite warm and Victoria is one of the mildest parts of Canada due to is sub-mediterranean climate, though the mountains were still snow capped when we arrived which was quite pretty. The bus system is pretty good with a flat rate of about $2.50 but if you stay near the harbour and like walking then most places are accessible by foot.

Food wise, you can get poutine (now one of my favourite dishes ever) pretty much most places and of course you’ll leave with a maple syrup addiction! There are lots of places to eat but I found it difficult to find gluten free places and for my soya milk fix I did manage to find a small supermarket that sold it and we had a fridge in our room which made morning tea possible, though Starbucks do soya milk as an option. Of course there is a great vegan restaurant as already mentioned. I think if we had spent more time there we would have hunted out a bigger supermarket. However the ferry service does do gluten free and veggie food and the coffee booth in the berth does soya lattes with a huge choice of flavoured syrups.

We stayed at the Quality Inn Downtown Inner Harbour, it was a nice hotel with a swimming pool (which we didn’t visit), laundry room and our room came with a fridge. There is a restaurant called the Argyle Attic annexed to it that does lovely breakfasts and have a mighty fine selection of whiskeys which I can highly recommend (but probably not with breakfast).

I would definitely love to come back here and explore more of the island,in fact I’m coming back here to explore more of the island.

In part two of our Canada trip, we head back to Van City.

Natasha x