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Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Vancouver adventures - part 3

After a full day at the conference on the Friday it was time to leave Vancouver and return home.  As before, Jenny, Lexie and my Canadian boy traveled in my hand luggage, they were too precious to go in hold luggage and anyway I knew I would have plenty of time at the airport departures lounge for some doll photography.

Vancouver airport was upgraded for the 2010 Winter Olympics and is a great layout which really flows well. I had noticed when arriving that the departure area was the level below arrivals with a wonderful indoor lounge area that includes flowing water, plants, seating, statues and an aquarium.  So it was no hardship to spend about 3.5 hours in that area (I got to the airport early and the flight was delayed).

During our meeting the previous afternoon, Heather Maciak gave my Lexie a gorgeous outfit and dolly ('Just like me' - with an overdress of wool felt) which Lexie promised to share with Jenny.  At the airport the girls changed out of their exploring Vancouver clothes - Lexie put on her new outfit (which came with blue shoes) and Jenny borrowed Lexie's original outfit ('All dressed up').
Lexie, Canadian boy and Jenny with the suitcases they borrowed from Patsi and their new dolly pose in front of the First Nation sculptures in Vancouver airport
Lexie, Canadian boy and Jenny admire the fish and sea creatures in the aquarium at Vancouver airport
The aquarium had a helpful information board explaining the different fish in the tank
Vancouver airport aquarium
Vancouver airport departure lounge with plants, river and aquarium
On the other side of the aquarium was another viewing window to see the fish, so Lexie and Jenny posed for another photo
The 'river' in the airport had representative models of salmon jumping up the river
The model salmon in the river
Lexie and Jenny looked out the window to see the aeroplane which would take them back to England
My Canadian dolls and I had a great time in Vancouver and I'd definitely like to return to British Columbia one day with my family.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Vancouver adventures - part 2

Wednesday was the start of the conference and the day of my presentations.  Needless to say I was feeling a bit nervous all day.  However during the afternoon a message arrived in my email from Jenny and Lexie doll maker Heather Maciak with the most wonderful suggestion for the following day.  Heather lives in Vancouver Island and offered to make the journey to the city to meet me for lunch and visit a fabric shop where she needed to get some wool felt for doll dressmaking.  This was some undertaking - she had to catch a ferry, a bus and the skytrain (a journey of 2.5 hours) to reach the city and I was overwhelmed with her suggestion and quickly said I would love to go with her to the fabric shop as well as meeting for lunch. Seeing this message gave me a lift before the presentations which thankfully went well.

I was lucky that the conference had an early start and finish on Thursday which made it easy for me to leave at lunchtime to meet Heather.  She was waiting in the hotel lobby and we started chatting immediately!  We had lunch at the Art Gallery cafe then walked to Gastown to find Heather's favourite fabric shop.  She had explained that it was huge but I was still amazed when we walked into the store.  It was on 2 levels, with lots of zippers and other notions downstairs in the large basement while the fabrics are on the street level floor.  I had never seen quite so many sizes, colours and types of zipper and our Jenny and Lexie girls (Heather had brought her pair carefully wrapped up in their travelling bags, called Cuddles) were amazed too. This gave us the first photo opportunity especially as there were not many customers downstairs whom we might have disturbed with our photo shoot antics.

Two pairs of Jenny and Lexie are amazed by the zippers
"Look at those zipper colours and how long they are"
"Look Jenny, these zippers are all wrapped up in bags"
Look at those zippers!  (Heather and I get in the shot, Heather's photo using her camera timer)
Once Heather had looked at wool felt (rather than polyester felt which isn't so good for doll clothes) and taken some photos of the colour choices, we went to look at the quilting and sewing fabrics.  I told Heather about my lime coloured Ponfa pram hood and apron when we spotted many patterns in lime shades, so the girls came out again to help us decide whether to buy any lime fabric.
Jenny, Lexie, Lexie and Jenny admire the lime fabrics
"well Mum are you going to choose any lime fabric?"
Love that lime
Heather taking a photo of me taking a photo of Heather and the dolls in lime
DollMum captures the moment (Heather's photo of me taking a photo of her and the dolls)
It was hard to choose from the huge variety of fabrics.  Doll makers and those who sew for dolls always look for small patterns and shades which won't overwhelm a doll and some fabrics we both liked and bought. The prices were very low compared to any prices I've come across in UK shops (prices ranged from 9.99, 7.99 or 5.99 Canadian dollars per metre for some, 5.99 is about £3 per metre in the UK!) and the fabrics were great quality.  We went for lengths of 30-40 centimetres and I found some fabric for Peggy Sue's birthday gift (Lorraine's Schoenhut doll).
Our fabric choices (Heather's on the left, mine on the right)
The clerk who cut our fabric was happy to take photos of us with our fabrics.
DollMum and Heather in Dressew with our fabric stashes
In Dressew with Heather
We went downstairs again as I was looking for ribbon with the Canadian maple leaf on it.  The young female clerk (with a punky hairstyle) who cut a short length ribbon of mini Canadian flag ribbon for me asked if we had been making a film as she had spotted us with our cameras and dolls.  We explained that we'd only been taking photos, we laughed about the idea of making a film - imagine stop frame animation with the dolls in a sewing shop!
Dressew in Gastown, Vancouver
Dressew in Gastown, Vancouver
Reluctantly we left Dressew and made our way along the street where I happened to spot a miniature Christmas scene in a shop window.
Miniature Christmas scene in a Vancouver shop
Miniature Christmas scene in a Vancouver shop
We briefly visited the waterfront by the convention centre and saw a seaplane on the water.  Heather explained that she never uses the seaplanes (not because they provide a thrill ride!) but because they are expensive and often get cancelled if the weather isn't good.
Seaplane on the water in Burrard Inlet
On our way to a coffee shop for more chatting we popped into the Pacific centre shopping mall where we encountered a promotion photo booth for the next Disney Pixar movie.  They persuaded us to have our photo taken with the dinosaurs (for free) in front of the green screen, so briefly we were movie stars in 'The Good Dinosaur'!  While we had coffee and hot chocolate I showed Heather some photos of my Ponfa pram, Sasha collection and family and Heather told me about the doll making process, which is fascinating.

Sadly all fun outings come to an end, Heather needed to get a skytrain to the bus and the 7pm ferry which she didn't want to miss.  It was absolutely wonderful to meet her having only ever corresponded via email and the doll group in the past and I felt very privileged to have had more than 4 hours of chatting, laughter and fun with Heather.

After sadly saying goodbye, I retraced my steps to Gastown.  Heather later said in an email that it must have been hard to resist returning to Dressew (it was) but I had some shopping of a different kind to do - gifts for family and friends back home and the tourist shops in Gastown provided ample choices.  In the shop where earlier in the week I had taken photos of the windows showing the First nation dolls was a whole shelf full of dolls.  My Canadian boy was soon posing with the modern vinyl equivalents of the Native Canadian doll (Heather's suggestion).
My hard plastic Canadian boy (more than 40 years old) with the modern vinyl equivalent dolls in a Gastown shop
My afternoon with Heather Maciak was the highlight of my work trip to Vancouver.  We had great fun talking, choosing fabrics together, discussing ideas and exploring the city.  Our photos provoked a lot of interest on the doll group with several people wishing they could have joined us in the fabric shop.  I'm still smiling about that wonderful afternoon and would like to thank Heather for making the trip to Vancouver that day and also for the lovely gift she gave my Lexie (who promises to share with Jenny) - more about that in the next post.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Vancouver adventures - part 1

What, only just come back from Rome and now off to Vancouver?  This time it wasn't Laura who made the journey as her girl had to stay at home and go to school.  I had a work conference to attend where I gave 2 presentations and this time the conference was in Vancouver, Canada!

When I was about 3 or 4 my father's elder sister, who had settled in Vancouver, sent my sister and I a Native American doll each.  I think my sister still has her doll too.  When I heard that I was to attend the conference I knew that three dolls in particular had to accompany me on the journey to their homeland - my Canadian boy (who has always been nameless) and my Heather Maciak dolls Jenny and Lexie, as they were designed and assembled in Canada.

We arrived on a wet Saturday evening after a long flight from Heathrow.  The following morning the rain had stopped and the clouds were lifting so a colleague and I decided to clear the cobwebs from the long flight and went for an exploratory walk along the downtown Vancouver waterfront and Stanley Park.  My Canadian boy came with me in the camera bag.

There was snow on Grouse mountain which overlooks Vancouver
 At Stanley park we found the Totem poles.  I had a vague recollection of a postcard from my aunt featuring these Totem poles.
Totem pole in Stanley park
My Canadian boy felt right at home with the Totem poles
The Totem poles are very colourful and beautifully carved
My Canadian boy stood on a rock near the Totem poles
At the Totem poles in Stanley park
We walked around the seawall of the park until we got to a path directing us to Beaver lake, so cut across the width of the park through the cedar and redwood trees to the lake.  It was worth the walk.
Beautiful Beaver lake in the heart of Stanley park
Morning sun rising above Beaver Lake in Stanley park
We followed the path through the tall trees of Stanley park from Beaver lake to Ferguson point
At Ferguson point we found a map of the park which showed where we had walked
This was the view towards north Vancouver with Third beach on the right
After we walked round the seawall back to the city we walked all across downtown Vancouver to Gastown. In a shop window in Gastown I saw some modern dolls in Canadian First Nation dress.
Dolls in a Gastown shop window
A beautiful First Nation doll
The weather was beautifully sunny that Sunday but it didn't last, as Monday was wet and windy all day.  I had a day off work so took the hop on hop off trolley bus (a vintage tour bus) on all 33 stops around the city and Stanley park.  This time Jenny and Lexie were tucked safely into my camera bag.  The bus toured the whole ring road by the seawall, so I saw the rest of the park in the rain from the bus. There were enormous redwood trees in the park but many trees came down during a fierce storm in 2006 which apparently closed the park for 6 months.  This ancient redwood tree was 800 years old!
Remains of an 800 year old giant redwood tree in Stanley park
The trolley bus tour included a stop at Granville Island just south of downtown Vancouver.  It used to be an industrial area but is now mostly craft, market and tourist shops.  There was one large barn like building housing several shops for children's toys and clothes.
The red trolley bus at the Granville Island stop
The entrance to Granville Island is under the road bridge to the city
this was the window display for a toy shop at Granville Island
Lexie and Jenny looked at Burrard Street bridge which they could see from the Market at Granville Island
The rain made it difficult to take good photos from the trolley bus on the remainder of the tour.  I was amazed that because I was on the second last trolley bus of the day the driver took us back to our hotels after he got to stop 33, amazing service which saved me a walk in the rain.  

On Tuesday I worked all morning while the weather started to clear up. Jenny and Lexie wanted to see out of the window.  The wind was still quite strong so the Canadian flag was flying proudly.
Jenny and Lexie admire the Canadian flag flying by the hotel roof garden
I posted a similar photo on the Jenny and Lexie Yahoo group that morning. Little did I realise what delightful train of events this would set off!

After I'd finished work, I ventured out for a late lunch and walk around the city.  Jenny and Lexie insisted on coming too and because it wasn't raining anymore and the wind was dropping I took them with me.  At the waterfront they were thrilled to see the seaplanes which fly to Vancouver Island and give people tours of the bay.
Jenny and Lexie at the Vancouver waterfront admiring the seaplanes
There was some sunshine lighting up the north Vancouver shoreline beyond the seaplanes
Lexie and Jenny were fascinated by the seaplanes and wished they could see one fly
Jenny and Lexie at the Vancouver sea front
It was too windy for the seaplanes to fly so they were all moored in a row
We walked along the seawall to find the Vancouver winter Olympic cauldron which has its own special plaza overlooking the bay.
Lexie and Jenny discovered the 2010 Vancouver winter Olympic cauldron 
The Olympic cauldron is a bit like a campfire in shape
It was soon time to return to the hotel, warmth and responses on the Jenny and Lexie group to my photo, but you'll have to wait for the next blog post for the fun this provided!