“Do you have hands? Excellent. That’s a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.”~Chris Riddell

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“Why do you carry such a big handbag when you go for a walk?” said my son rather disapprovingly.

“Why? What’s wrong if I do?” I countered, a bit surprised.

“Just saying,” he replied shrugging his shoulders and raising his eyebrows.

“I carry some things with me when I go for a walk. I need a roomy bag to accommodate them” was my matter-of-fact answer.

My bag gets a bit heavier when I take along one or two of my #granddaughters with me. Added to my diary/journal, pen, iPad, and other knick-knacks, I also carry a game or two that we play: Spot It! and Caterpillar, and loose notepapers and pencils (even a few color pencils) because I make up writing games with the elder one, Aly. Our walks usually have a break at Tim Hortons. I love the place and can while away hours writing or reading if I’m alone and not having¬†#funwiththekids.

“A part of my design and inspiration ethos is that I carry around a leather notebook and I sketch in it, doodle in it, write notes in it, and I put pictures in it.”~John Varvatos

One of the activities Aly loves is #doodling. At times, unintentionally, it becomes specific and more about designing. I set the timer to 1 minute and 15 seconds, and one of us chooses a word and we start doodling to make the word an attractive design. She’s nine and very good with her drawing and imagination.

Here are some of the ones we’ve done. All were done within the time limit and some even before the timer alarm went off. After comparing and complimenting each other, we shaded in some undone areas, but there was no addition or subtraction to the basic drawing.

She’s really amazing. Considering she had no time to think up something and she completed each one in time, she certainly has talent. I’m not saying that because she’s my granddaughter! See for yourself, I’ve added names so you can tell Alyssa’s from mine.

“It just comes out of my subconscious. If you asked me to draw you a doodle, I couldn’t do it.”~Lois Frankel


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This one wasn’t a part of our timed #challenges, although we did them just as quickly as we did the others. This was done recently after we finished many different forms of word games and were relaxing with ‘doodh chai’ (extra milky tea) for her and a regular tea for me. Oatmeal raisin cookies boosted our energy ūüôā

“I love jotting down ideas for my blog, so I doodle or take notes of all kinds of stuff that inspires me: the people I meet, boutiques I visit, a florist that just gave me a great idea for an interior design project, things like that.”~Maria Sharapova






Dashing Through The Snow

“As I took my children sledding this morning, I watched them fly down the hill Рaiming for the jump and flying in the air. Getting the wind knocked out of them as they landed hard then climbing up to do it again Рrelentless and brave. 
I took a moment to be happy they are young and innocent and appreciate the simple thrill of going fast down a hill. I pushed my own nervous inclination aside and instead of saying “Be careful!” I said “Aim Straight!” Then I let them go down the jump again and again because in this world, we need to be relentless and brave and I need to be sure they don’t unlearn it.‚Ä̬†
‚Äē¬†Elizabeth Tambascio

I can’t upload videos here so I’m uploading the pics.¬†

Getting the younger two ready for their first sledding experience. M aged 4 and Z aged 2+
I worried that Z would be scared… I needn’t have. She was excited and not a bit scared. Neither was M!

Back in my home country, my first experience of snow came when we moved from our country home in Punjab to the capital of Punjab & Haryana: Chandigarh. A small city then, in 1971. A brief about Chandigarh:

(It was one of the early planned cities in post-independent India and is internationally known for its architecture and urban design. The master plan of the city was prepared by Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier, which transformed from earlier plans created by the Polish architect Maciej Nowicki and the American planner Albert Mayer. Most of the government buildings and housing in the city were designed by the Chandigarh Capital Project Team headed by Le Corbusier, Jane Drew, and Maxwell Fry.  

Shimla was the temporary capital of East Punjab until Chandigarh was completed in 1960.) (source Wikipedia)

Chandigarh wasn’t very far from Shimla, a hill station and the capital of Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayan foothills, which sees heavy snowfall. The roads were fairly good, even back then, and every year, we’d keep an eye for the news of the first snowfall. Daddy would call the driver, Jaspal Singh, and we’d leave home very early. It would be only for the day. We returned in the evening! All we did was play in the snow. And, of course, we loved the drive. I was a teenager then. All snow-related experiences ended in my early twenties.

I moved away to a desert area and I got to know sand dunes and arid zones.

Decades later, I worked in a residential school (aka boarding school) in another hill station that experienced heavy snowfalls, but I never got to live the winters there. Residential schools closed for about three months in winter. By the time we returned, the snow had vanished even though the winter lingered!

Z gets in front and M climbs on behind. I thought it was a crazy idea… one of the kids would tumble off and get hurt! (age gap/generation gap…LOL)
As¬†I¬†watched,¬†I¬†couldn’t¬†help¬†feeling¬†quite¬†proud¬†of¬†this¬†little one as¬†she¬†settled¬†herself. She made herself comfy and secure. It was her 1st ride!!.
 Aly sat and watched them, patiently waiting her turn on the higher and steeper slopes on the other side.

Fast forward to the present; I have snow all around me for months and I am not as keen about the snow as I used to be. It stays too long here and I can’t afford to ignore the consequences of walking out alone. What used to be a comedy when we fell, rolled or tumbled down a snowy bank or slipped on ice, will be a tragedy now ūüėÄ #idontlikelongsnowywinters

But I do enjoy getting out to watch the kids when they go sledding. As long as I have an arm to steady me, I’ll walk on snow and dare the hidden ice beneath!

The¬†Britt’s¬†Pub¬†&¬†Eatery¬†beckoned¬†as¬†I¬†tried¬†to¬†keep¬†warm and¬†not¬†
fall as I 
clicked pictures of the surroundings.

Though I was tempted, I thought better of getting into Britt’s. I wanted to sit with the kids and hear their experiences and share their joy over some hot chocolate and tea later at Tims’s, closer to home!

Back¬†at¬†Tim’s,¬†I¬†listened to¬†their¬†endless¬†chatter¬†and¬†basked in¬†the¬†glow¬†of¬†their¬†joy.

A tired but happy bunch.

                                                 Thank you for visiting my blog!



Far From The Madding Crowd

I awoke to this sight outside my window…it was a work in progress!



Photo: Joy Clarkson


The work progressed as I went about brushing my teeth, calling room service for a cup of tea…



Photo: Joy Clarkson


When the tea arrived….awesome sunrise!



Volcano Osorno, Puerta Varas – an active one, my sentry on the horizon. Photo: Joy Clarkson


“Who would then deny that when I am sipping tea in my (tea)room I am swallowing the whole universe with it and that this very moment of my lifting my bowl to my lips is eternity itself transcending time and space?” (D.T. Suzuki)


We were down South…Puerto Varas. It had been a long trip, involving a fairly long drive to Santiago to catch a flight to Puerto Montt. From Puerto Montt, we hired a car and drove all the way through a picturesque landscape to reach Puerto Varas. Some of my pictures are¬†really good (not professional by any measure!) considering I clicked them with a mobile phone. I’m quite happy about that…including the selfie above!


Unfortunately, we decided to spend the day in this quaint, pretty city on Labour Day! Practically the whole place was shut down. Even the theatre on the lake was closed, not because of Labour Day. It was not the season to stage anything! The edifice looked beautiful standing half way in the huge lake. Frutillar lies on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, the largest lake in Chile. It is also called The City of Music.



The kids wanted to play a while in the park so we indulged them. Apart from the swings and slides, they were fascinated by an iron sculpture of a piano. They hopped onto the bench and sang “Do…re…me…fa…so…la…!” to imaginary music they tapped out of the metal keys!

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The weather went against us too. The dark rain clouds gathered low and heavy and soon we felt the first drops on our faces.



“It started as a fine drizzle.” Photo: Joy Clarkson


It started as a fine drizzle so we hung around a while in the park, looking for a cafeteria that was open among the few that lined the street.


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While I appreciated the information, I had no clue why this board was put up in the park.


Good for us, a couple of cafeterias were open. Just as it started to pour, we spotted one which was close by and we scooted into the welcoming warmth, literally and figuratively, of this lovely cafeteria. The lady here had the most delicious Nueces Kuchen. (walnut pie)

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Back at the hotel, I saw signs that it had been a heavy downpour in Varas too. I saw tarpaulin spread across the roof of one of the lounges/rooms and held down with small rocks, stones, and slabs. This was a sight I hadn’t seen for over four decades. The last time being in my home country when I was a kid!


Measures to prevent seepage/leakage



Before we left Puerto Varas, to return home, we visited Frutillar once again and found this delightful cafeteria called Duendes del Lago (Elves of the Lake) And not for nothing was it so called. We entered to find a fairytale kind of atmosphere with elves in all shapes and sizes lurking, hanging, sitting, standing in corners, shelves, a¬†magazine rack…and the kid’s corner was the cutest! One of the twins commented that it looked like, “Billy Bam Bam’s house.” The sandwiches and cakes/pies were good too!

Elves of the Lake


Petrohue & Los Saltos del Petrohue

Our next road trip took us to Petrohue. We wanted to visit the waterfalls and take the kiddies on a boat ride on the lake – Lago Todos Los Santos. It was once again a drive through the most scenic landscapes.

A walk up a winding path leading to the waterfalls opened up to a breathtaking view…but I must admit I was disappointed by the falls. I guess the rains hadn’t flooded the streams yet or whatever, it wasn’t the falls that engaged me! Volcano Osorno, an imposing figure on the horizon, hogged my attention, more so because of its seeming nearness, ¬†as did the black basaltic¬†rocks against a backdrop of rich green foliage and green, glassy water.



The contrast of the reflecting green of foliage and blue of the sky in the water was stunning

To say it was windy would be an understatement. The wind was very strong and whipped around and I was pushed back and found myself pressing forward to resist the force. Certainly not a good place to click a selfie FullSizeRender (2)

We walked back down the winding path and drove out to the Petrohue Lodge, where we intended to have¬†lunch. But before that a boat ride on the lake. A ‘First’ for the twins, for the record! Fortunately, we had the entire boat, a big one, to ourselves for thirty minutes and the kids had a free run around…up and down!


Petrohue Lodge was very good as far as the food was concerned…had some amazing soup too! But service left a lot to desire…three of us even got splashed nice and proper with pineapple juice! But, I guess such accidents occur at times…nevertheless, service had a lot of room for improvement.


We took a break from driving around for a day and did a spot of shopping, in Varas, for mementos, to carry back with us. The next day we decided to visit Chiloe. We drove to Chacao where we boarded a ferry, car and all, to cross the Chacao channel to Chiloe.


Our pre-planned destination was Anton. However, we made an impulsive detour to follow the Circuito de las Iglesias – Circuit of the Churches. It was a drive to remember. We drove and drove and drove – up and down a winding dirt road for over an hour and still no Iglesia or Iglesias popped into sight! To make matters worse we even got caught in a funeral procession which blocked the whole narrow road, leaving us no option but to crawl behind the slow procession of hearse and cars. To cut a long story short…we decided to turn back when the road narrowed so much that we realized going forward would cut off our option of abandoning the quest. So, we backed and did an about turn and set our sights on Anton instead. Thankfully the weather was just fine even though the drive wasn’t!

I decided to enjoy the drive by looking out the window and soaking in the beauty of the countryside…the “campo” landscape and houses.

To sum up Chiloe – a belief was re-enforced that there’s someone up there looking out for me and the family. The detour was a blessing in disguise. By the time we retraced our way and turned onto the highway to Anton, events unknown to us were hotting up near the city. We were twenty-five minutes away from our destination¬†when we encountered a roadblock. Black smoke was billowing up from burning tyres in the middle of the road. The pescadores¬†(fishermen) had blocked the highway. We made a hasty retreat before things became ugly. Blessing in disguise!

How was it a blessing? We learned that the blockade carried on for a week or so. So if we hadn’t gone on our wild goose chase we’d have made it into Anton before the roadblock and we would have been stuck there! With little kids in tow, that would have been a terribly difficult situation and an extremely expensive one too. So, we, a very disappointed but grateful group of tired travellers, boarded the ferry once again and made our way back to our lovely hotel in Varas…and a delicious dinner at the hotel restaurant prepared by Chef Miguel.

But the experience wasn’t without its soothing touches. I found the countryside very calm and tranquil.


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Retired not abandoned!


It was time to head back, vacation was over. We would drive to Puerto Montt, and take a flight to Santiago and from there a one and a half hour drive would reach us back to base. As the luggage was being loaded in the car, I looked out at the view spread out in front of the hotel. I saw the huge cross that stood over the city…stark against the grey, gloomy day sky, unlike the night when it would shine against a dark sky reflecting the lights that shone on it. I said adios to this beautiful city that stood in the shadow of the cross.

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Like with all the other vacations….As great as the family getaway was… was wonderful to be back home!