The Correct Hiking Poles

During my Camino Del Norte in a village in Spain called Markina my Black Diamond z poles were stolen and I was broken hearted. A call of nature in a beautiful cafe separated me and my expensive poles. I left both my backpack and poles outside the locked bathroom door. Some pilgrims said I was lucky both had not been stolen. It was very emotional to have to go on without the trusty sticks that supported my knees so well. Since I am 5’4” the length at 110cm was perfect. These poles were foldable and easily fit inside my small Gregory Jade. And very light at 13 ounces. 

If you are buying hiking sticks it is important to hold the grip so that your arm is at a 90 degree angle. You can get the poles in 100cm, 110 cm, 120cm etc. Some are adjustable. I’ve been told to follow manufacturers’ advice on websites or ask a store salesperson. Try many until you get the ones you like. I’m on the lookout for a sale to replace my z poles.

As an end to this story I should mention a German girl who gave me her poles as she was finishing up her hike and was going shopping in Santander. I felt blessed to have met such a kind hiker.



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The Traditional Coffee House and Deli Opened in Torbay, NL

I couldn’t believe a cafe opened its doors in Torbay two weeks before I found it! It looks like a house along Torbay Rd. until you see the sign. There’s parking for about 10 cars in front of the gray building. I really had to look for 1496 before I knew I had arrived! If you’re trying to find it, it’s located past the post office and before Foodland .

Having been there twice this week I want to say it’s a very cozy cafe with fine fare.  The coffee is delicious;however, I would like a second cup for free or a loonie! One is never enough as I’ve noted from hundreds of visits to coffee establishments. I purchased a tomato and sausage soup to have with my supper but it got woofed down immediately after arriving home. And it was very good! I sampled the brownie and raspberry croissant as well, one per visit! Also memorable and yummy! You can find quite a variety and one to sample. 

The young people who work there are very friendly, and I hope to enjoy their company more often in the future. The owner, Tina Ricketts, works in the cafe and answered my questions in an energetic manner. I noticed a CD of her son Allan’s music and one of his paintings. I don’t know about you, but I expect friendly workers when I frequent a cafe and  it’s something that shouldn’t change because if one does not feel welcomed there are many other Tims and Starbucks around to feel not at all entertained or wanted! Since I love people watching and writing, I expect to spend many hours in this  establishment!  The free wifi is a draw for friends and visitors alike. 

Another positive for the cafe is a list of art classes offered in the mornings. 

So far very good. The sandwiches and salads look healthy and encouraging for yet another visit. Nice to see this new business in Torbay. I would be happy to see boutiques and restaurants pop up here, to draw more visitors to our spectacular town. A jewelry store and a thrift store would get me out and about more often. I’m still hoping Codys will reopen its doors or reinvent itself.  Perhaps a joint bookstore & coffee place would be another draw. I’m happy to say we have several good salons with very friendly workers. It can only get better from here! 


I have visited this cafe with several friends since writing the above blog post. The customer service is very good with friendly banter each time I frequented the place. I tried a breakfast sandwich and would prefer that it was made while I wait, not just warmed in a microwave. Perhaps sandwiches could be done on the spot, with fillings prepared in advance. People do like choice, with or without mayo, different breads etc.  I met Allan and found him to be a good businessman with a warm demeanour. Some music has been played by various artists.  (Some were announced on the Facebook Page. I’ve heard that Dave Panting played there!)

All in all, this cafe/deli is a wonderful addition to our town and like most new businesses there is room for simple changes to make customers happier and keep them returning.

Some suggestions:

1. A senior coffee or loonie fill up for coffee/tea( There is a card to buy 8 and get one cup free)

2. Half sandwich with cup of soup for $5.99  or half sandwich and small salad for $6.99. (Speaking for myself and a few friends, a $10 lunch would be a big draw!)

3. To sell more baked goods, some cheaper $1 cookies 

4. Some lower priced items for hikers who are on a strict budget

5. A suggestion box for new ways to improve

Good luck to the owners!

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St. Shotts Book #2

I’m still aiming for 100 stories and 100 photos. To date I have about 25 stories and 10 photos. I’m giving a deadline for August 1,2016 as my final deadline. Whatever stories I have by then I will decide to publish or not. There are about 40 of Book #1 left.  If there are any businesses that would be willing to sell some or all of the remaining copies, please email me at  

Thanks to all the people who helped with our first book.  I consider it a big success to sell over 560 copies. The only failure is not to try at all. Many new writers saw their stories in print and the stories cannot be lost to future generations. 

If you have 1,2 or three stories, please print them off and send to me at

1 Mary Catherine’s Lane

St. Shotts, NL

A0A 3R0

Please put your name on back of photos, and list people in photo as well as date or event. I can also accept digital photos in July. 

If you’d like a copy of the first book, you can get one for the sale price of $10 with an extra $5 for postage.  The book makes a nice birthday gift or welcoming gift for visitors to our province. 

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Book of Poetry About My Three Caminos

It might take a year for me to get it all together but it’s bringing back a lot of memories. My Greenland friend who helps me keep safe the first night in Bayonne when we couldn’t find my expensive hotel. My angel intervention by a deceased friend who sends a person from her own Irish county with the same last name to protect me the last week of my third Camino. So many stories in between!

With six books on the go, you might be waiting a while! All ideas for a book of poetry are welcome. 

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The Aussie Connection

I’ve only known a handful of Aussies and I’m really happy to say I liked most of them.  I met Judi on the Camino France’s and she helped me get around the mountain and also improve my walking. She also sold me a Kathmandu merino wool top as I found it cold in the mornings and evenings.  We walked separately after a few days but I never forgot her helpfulness. Thanks Judi!

This past Camino Del Norte I met a lawyer turned teacher who was a very private person. She put me in my place when I asked her if she was enlightened after a service she attended. She did not like anyone making light of her beliefs and while I wasn’t trying to do that, I should not have been so flippant. I should have thought before I spoke. The next day we walked together for a couple hours and she helped me understand many things about my own life. When I wanted to quit the walk, she reminded me that I would be throwing it all in God’s face as He had helped me get this far and she encouraged me to pray and follow my heart. 

Just recently I found a blog about an Aussie lady, Nancy Liddle,who had walked Camino Frances at age 55. You can find her on Facebook. She suggested I write a piece about how the caminos were different for me. I’m working on that now.

Another couple who slept across from me were on a trip of a lifetime. They each had sick parents home in Australia and were worrying about them. The man wore a huge gold necklace and had lost all his toenails. They were frugal and waited while I ate a burger to see if they wanted one. They were friendly and a devoted couple. 

So Australia still stays in my memories to this day. Very nice people and a country I want to visit some day! 

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First Day of Winter In Torbay NL

Snow, slush and more snow on the way!  I know what you’re thinking ‘What do you expect? It’s Newfoundland after all!’

Christmas could be white this year. Those with skidoos and skis are happy about the white stuff. Children who enjoy sliding and making snow forts will be happy. Outdoor enthusiasts will be ecstatic.  Me-I just want to move to somewhere warm!!

And by Christmas Eve the snow could be all gone! Not to be a grinch, I hope so. Merry Christmas one and all! Being at home with family and friends makes for a warm Christmas!!


We used our snowblower once since we returned from our Ottawa Christmas trip. There was hardly any snow during the 12 days we were gone. It was a green Christmas in Ottawa but we got snow after Christmas Day where snow blowers and plows had to be used. Happy New Year to you all!

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Fox Harbour Connections

The last time I visited Placentia with a good friend I was not aware of my connection to the Whiffins in Fox Harbour. Had I known I would have visited. My grandfather on my mother’s side is Andrew Whiffin who is the son of Patrick and Catherine (McCue) Whiffin. My grandmother,wife of Andrew, hailed from St. Lawrence. Her name is Elizabeth Slaney.  My maternal grandparents became one of the first 25 families who settled Midland on the west coast of the island of Newfoundland.  A street is named after them. 

My grandfather Andrew joined the Canadian army in WW1. More research is needed to get more details about his involvement. He signed up and after his return he rarely spoke about his experiences. 

I have more questions than I have answers. If you have information on the 37th Battalion and/or about the Whiffins of Fox Harbour I’d like to hear from you. Comments come to me before they appear on the blog so if you leave private details that you don’t want shared, say so. 


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St. Michael’s Printshop

I cannot tell you the history of this structure located on Harbour Drive in St. John’s, Newfoundland. I’m sure if you google the name you can find it. I want to tell you about my experience doing a print making course with Mike Connolly who has been there for 11 years. 

I signed up for the 4 night $250 course with the hopes that someone from Torbay would be in the course and Id be able to hitch a ride. That didn’t happen. On the first night we did a monoprint using plexiglass and there was only Marguerite and myself. She lives close to downtown so I was stuck doing some things I don’t like doing such as driving downtown after supper and leaving my vehicle unattended for 3 hours! 

The second night Chuck showed up and we did linoprints.  We carved images into the pieces of linoleum and inked them up. We each took our turns using the brayer and press. Band aids were ready in case we cut our fingers but there were no mishaps that night. During the first night we put black ink on the glass with a brayer and rubbed off what we wanted white or shaded, using rags, cardboard, toothpicks etc. This class we brought images and tried to cut lines using various sharp tools, remembering that the images would be reversed and the cut out parts would be white. 

On the third night we learned about sanding down copper in preparation for etching it. I love trees so my copper had a big tree and some bushes and hills etched into it. After inking the copper and running it through the press, we could improve parts of the etching and then ink up the copper, then run it through the press a second time. My tree was too thin half way down so I etched to make it look fuller. I really liked my tree when it was printed the second time. I also joined up some limbs that seemed to be just floating away from the tree! Thanks Mike for all your good suggestions. I can see why you stayed at SMP so long. You’re a born teacher!

I nearly missed my 4th class as my sister in law died and I thought I had to go to the west coast. But after I read the obituary I realized I could leave the morning after the class. I really didn’t want to miss this class as the three of us were doing a lithograph together. Preparing the limestone had already been done by Mike so we were ready to get educated about how grease and water don’t mix and we learned about the various mediums to use to draw on the limestone slab, how to mix the acid and other liquid to allow the etching to take place after we drew our trees, clouds, trail, rocks and bushes.  We learned how to set up the press and how to wet the slab before and after each inking.  It was a long process and I really respect printmakers who use many rounds of etching and different color inks. It is very tiring and while Mike did most of the inking, he let us try it once. We did all of the sponging and etching. By 9 p.m. I was ready to call it a night but we had clean up and then we said our goodbyes. 

It was quite a labour intensive course. And we couldn’t have had a better teacher! Thanks Mike! I’m very proud to say I did it and no harm came to my car or me in the process! 


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Joke A Priest Told In Church

I forget the priest’s name but here goes…

Pope Francis  was visiting New York recently and it was his first time in a stretch limo. He says to the driver “What’s it like to drive a vehicle like this? To which the driver replied “It can be tricky at times.”

“Would you mind if I drive?” asks the pope. 

So the chauffeur got out in the back and the pope started driving and before long he speeds up , making the chauffeur a little nervous. Then they hear sirens and the pope stops. 

A cop walks up to driver’s window and recognizes the pope.  He is gob smacked. He rushes back to his patrol car and calls his superior officer. 

“You’re not going to believe this but I just stopped the pope for speeding!”

His superior says ” Who’s in the back?”

To which the cop replies “It must be God!”

(I’m pretty sure this is fiction!)

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Walking on the Manuels River Trail

Last week my good friend Brenda and I decided to try out the Manuels River Trail. It was gorgeous with many benches, wooden steps to climb and the best part of all -the views. The Fall colours were remarkable.  The root systems of some trees called for sketching and double takes as we walked quickly through our windy cold day. The flat areas were easy but the steps would be difficult for walkers with knee or back problems.  We walked at a good pace, stopping to take in the picturesque views along the river and to take photos. 

We ambled along chatting about every topic under the sun and I with my trusty walking sticks tried to walk on the sides of the wooden steps, climbing easily with the sturdy shock absorbing assistance.  I enjoy using the sticks and they do help to make the walking a little easier on old joints!( I’m hoping my old joints last another 20-30 years so I want to take care of them!)

It was a walk of splendid proportions. Great company, cool sunny weather and views for a lifetime. I always love walking beside a river! It could not have been a more perfect day.

After our breathtaking walk we headed off to a friend’s house for homemade pea soup, wraps and several desserts!

 What more could a person ask for in this life?  Good friends, good food and challenging physical exercise that gets forgotten in the beauty of the place?  And health and strength to be able to enjoy it all! Thank you God!


Next time I will visit the Hibernia Interpretation Centre which houses some trilobite fossils and the history of the area. There is also a Second Cup Cafe for those who want an easy lunch or just a cup of java.  You can check out more on this spectacular trail and centre at

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