Sunday, January 31, 2010

Len's Mill Day Two

Check yesterday's blog for some info on Len's Mill; Today I'm posting a second cool picture from the store. Today's is similar to yesterday's but it is different fabric. Just what does one do with fabrics like these? Sew an evening gown? Make a costume of some kind? I know what I do with the stuff; I make pictures.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Len's Mill Outlet

The Len's Mill Outlet in London, Ontario, on Exeter Road is a very unique store with a weird mix of merchandise.

If you need a big chunk of foam, a winter hat, some pancake syrup, maybe a Royal Doulton place setting and at a really fine price, or even some colourful fabric, Len's Mill is your store. Jeans? They got 'em. Habitat pea soup? Yup! How about a five-foot long church pew? If you move fast, the answer is yes!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Biting Cold in London, Ontario

My wife saw a flock of wild turkeys in the field beside Bostwick Road in the southend of London Ontario. But it was so cold that I couldn't make the long walk into the field; My face immediately began to enter frostbite territory. I saw the tree and the corn rows and saw a picture. I took out my camera but the battery quit from the cold. I slipped off my glove to switch batteries and my fingers were numb by the time I had the new battery installed.

East and southeast of London the weather was even worse. Just as cold but higher winds accompanied by some falling snow resulting in white-outs making driving dangerous.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Arva Flour Mills

As promised, this is Arva Flour Mills on the northern edge of London, Ontario. The red addition on the side of the main building is the mill store where I buy my flour.

Before I shot this picture, I got some white, hard flour for making bread and some light yellow semolina for making pasta. It's good flour but the best thing about it is that it's not flour from a giant conglomerate.

I was surprised to learn recently that Robin Hood Mills is owned by Horizon Milling GP, which is owned by the giant Cargill Corporation out of the States. (This is not to knock the Robin Hood product. I have used their bread machine flour in the past. I just like buying from smaller companies. It's a personal thing.)

Muscovy duck

I believe this is a Muscovy duck. I was told this by the lady at the flour mill where I shot this picture.

The Arva Flour Mill is on the northern edge of London Ontario and is still in operation. I like to buy my flour there. It's good flour and I believe the mill is locally owned.

I didn't dare get too close for this picture as the duck hissed a loud warning. It sounded serious.

Later, I learned the brightly coloured male is all hiss. One of the white ducks in the background is another matter. One of those ducks is quick to deliver a fierce pecking attack if you get too close.

I didn't.

Tomorrow we'll have a picture of the mill itself.


Monday, January 25, 2010


It was a cold day and this woman looked liked she was feeling it. She was sitting, huddled against the cold, watching and waiting patiently as her young daughter enjoyed some time in the park with her grandmother.

Bike paths and walking paths common in London

For all the talk of society facing an obesity crisis, there are certainly enough walkers and joggers filling  the pedestrian pathways around London. The yellow line delineates the area of the roadway dedicated to those on foot.

Many London roadways now sport separate bike lanes. I can walk or bike from my home in southwest London all the way to the city centre and hardly ever share the pavement with a car.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

London PhotoWalk

You often read that the Internet is the wild west. Our local paper likes to make this claim. Maybe they're right; I don't know. But my experiences over the past year, living and playing on the Net, have been very good. All the people with whom I have come in contact have been good people, interesting people, and many have enriched my life.

For instance, there is the London PhotoWalk group. They post their planned walks on the Net and get a dozen or so photographers out to document some area of London. Saturday they toured Springbank Park.

I was lucky enough to catch one of their regular shooters, James Wilkinson, at a weekend seminar a couple of months ago. Listening to his talk and viewing his slides, I learned that he is one fine shooter. (Wilkinson is not the shooter shown stalking the Springbank Park geese.)

In the coming week I'm going to keep an eye on the PhotoWalk Flickr site and see what is submitted from the day's shoot. There should be a good mix of work as the site's administrator, Kevin van Lierop, is working to ensure that everyone has a chance to post their best images.

Rockinon - more pictures from Saturday's shoot to run in the next couple of days.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Bench Art

In the coming days the snow is going to take a real beating; Rain is forecast for Sunday. It is the January thaw in London, Ontario. But it is only January and there will be a lot of opportunities to take more snow pictures like this one.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Humpty Dumpty at Storybook

It is called Storybook Gardens for a reason. Originally it was a park with a strong children's storybook theme. The theme has been diluted over the passing years put there are reminders of its original approach throughout the park.

If you pay attention, you will see that kids still clearly enjoy the colourful characters such as Humpty Dumpty. I believe there is some talk of bringing back more of the storybook characters. Done correctly, it could be a fine idea.

Even a snowperson needs to sit down

Years ago when we were all making the switch from fishermen to fishers, from mailmen to mail carriers, from manhole cover to access cover, I handed a picture of a snowman in to the desk at The London Free Press. An argument ensued over what to call the snowman in the paper. Should he, it, be referred to as a snowperson?

I got snowman into the paper by assuring the desk that the snowperson pictured was truly a snowman. With today's picture, I am not so sure of sex, I'm not sure who wears the pants in snowperson culture, and so I am going with snowperson. I don't wan London Daily Photo to be a sexist blog.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Storybook Gardens skating

I'm one of those Londoners who still loves Storybook Gardens. I especially like the park in the winter with its skating trail making a curved loop about a quarter of a kilometre long through the trees and bushes, past the Storybook exhibits and the seal pool.

Illuminated by festive holiday lights, it really is the prettiest skating location this side of Ottawa. (One person with whom I chatted came from Ottawa and said that it really did remind them of skating on the Rideau Canal.)

You don't even have to own your own skates; There are rental hockey and figure skates available in the Storybook castle.

Note: Children under 5 years-of-age must wear a helmet. No hockey sticks, pucks or balls are permitted on the skate trail, nor are sleds or toboggans. Strollers and wheelchairs are permitted but people are asked to clean the wheels of any debris before heading onto the ice.

Yes, there are seals in London Ontario.

It may be cold in London Ontario at this time of year but for harbour seals the water's fine. In the wild they are commonly found in the cold coastal waters of the North Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

There are seven harbour seals presently swimming about the Storybook Gardens pool.

According to the park's Website, if you come by the park any day at 2:00 p.m., you’ll find the staff feeding the seals their favourite dinner: Fish.

The site also states that the harbour seals Loki, Cricri and all the others were born in captivity and can’t live in the wild. They want their dinner hand delivered. Maybe it's a good life; I don't know.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hooded Merganser

The little duck in the bottom centre of this picture is a hooded merganser. It was an uncommon visitor to the pond in Springbank Park and a gentleman with a big camera pointed this out to me. I thank him for the tip.

Hooded mergansers have a crest at the back of the head which can be expanded or contracted. In adult males, this crest has a large white patch. It can be quite an impressive display.

Hooded mergansers are short distance migrants and winter in the United States and southern Ontario wherever winter temperatures allow for ice free conditions on ponds, lakes and rivers.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Dominion Public Building

The two architecturally impressive Richmond St. entrances to the Dominion Public Building are both missing their original ornate doors. I think this picture tells the story.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Dominion Public Building

As promised, here is the exterior of the Dominion Public Building.

According to Canada's Historic Places, the DPB is classified as a Federal Heritage Building erected under the Public Works Construction Act of 1934. In an effort to alleviate the worst effects of the Great Depression the Federal Government allocated 40 million dollars to public works, generating employment and stimulating the economy. The Dominion Public Building is one of the more prominent of the 26 buildings erected under this Act.

An excellent example of modern classicism, a variant of the Art Deco style, the reinforced concrete building is both functional and beautiful.

The original ornate brass doors at the two front entries are gone; I was told they were too difficult to keep shiny, too labour intensive. As I said yesterday, the large art deco lamps inside are now replicas, with the original lamps being lost in storage. Some 1930s decorations are still in place, and the brass elevator doors are wonderful and probably irreplaceable today.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dominion Public Building

It's called the Dominion Public Building and when I moved to London thirty some years ago it was the main downtown post office. Coming up we will have a look at the outside of this fine art deco structure but today we are seeing the replica art deco lighting. That's right, replica.

It seems that at one point in this building's life, it was decided to remove the original art deco ceiling lights. They were sent to Ottawa for storage. Years later it was decided to restore a bit of the building, bringing it back to its original elegance. Word went out to have the removed ceiling lights returned. But, the valuable lights were nowhere to be found.

The replicas are not bad but up close they look like what they are - replicas. As for the rest of the aging restoration, much of it has been allowed to deteriorate. The post office is gone, the counters removed and the space crudely divided and dedicated to other uses.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Marienbad Chimney Sweep

One of my favourite black and white foreign films is "L'Année dernière à Marienbad." I confess I fall more in line with those who find the film pretentious and even incomprehensible but it stars a young Delphine Seyrig. What's not to like?

It is a gorgeous film - beautifully shot and it does justice to the famous resort, to the classic gardens and to Seyrig. She went on to work with many famous directors such as François Truffaut and Luis Buñuel. Sadly, she was only 58-years-old when she died in Paris in 1990.

The Marienbad Restaurant in downtown London takes its name from the Czech spa made world famous for many by the award winning film.

Standing on the Marienbad chimney, high above the street, is an iron sculpture of a chimney sweep wearing the traditional top hat. The art work is by Jerry Vrabec who was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia and apprenticed in the Czech capitol.

Vrabec's work appears in a number of locations in downtown London. In the windows of Garlic's on Richmond Street, at Bloomers in the Covent Garden Market and of course the chimney sweep above the Marienbad. (This links to some views of the restaurant - inside and out.)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Now kick it up a notch

This is the Thompson Recreation and Athletic Centre (TRAC) at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario. It  features an NHL-size rink and a 200 metre track for jogging and track and field meets.

It could have been a neat building. Actually, I have to admit that I still find it kind of neat. The three tower structures support the roof. This keeps the inside of the structure open, free of columns. Should be cool, right?

Click here and have a 360-degree view of the inside. O.K. I admit it. Inside, it's boring. Such a neat idea and when you get inside - nothing. Oh, there a rink and a track and all so practical.

I bet there is still time to make this visually stunning. Come on UWO, turn some of your imaginative students loose on this problem. Maybe the fine arts students could come up with something creative and yet affordable.

The balls in your court.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Springbank Park in winter

A lot of people like to argue that the heart of London is the downtown. But for me, the heart of my community is Springbank Park. This large park, with a history going back well over a hundred years, is a beautiful place in every season.

As can be seen from the footprints in the snow, I am not alone. Actually, the city often has plowed the road through the park before they plowing my residential street. I guess joggers and walkers come first and I can't argue with their reasoning; I'm a walker (with a hint of jogger thrown in.) I appreciate the cleared roadways in the park.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Same trees, same day, same time but different picture.

It is interesting how one scene can yield almost unlimited pictures. The picture today shows the same trees as the picture which ran yesterday. Yet, it is not the same image.

The cold snap goes on.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Icy Trees

It is not uncommon for there to be rain during the winter in Canada. One year I recall skiing in the Eastern Townships of Quebec after a particularly severe ice storm. The ice on the slopes was almost an inch thick. I didn't think I'd be skiing that day; I thought I would have been better off with skates.

But the ski hill was prepared with giant grooming machines that chewed up the ice and left behind snow-like, skiable flakes of ice in slope-long, deep rows.

The ice storm that passed through London earlier in the week wasn't that bad but even today lots of trees are still sporting a sparkling coating of ice.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Winter in Canada

When I saw these two bikes locked and snow-covered at the University of Western Ontario, I thought picture. On closer inspection, I noticed the Canadian flag on the crossbar of the bike in foreground. Ah, a picture that clearly says, "This is winter in Canada."

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Christmas lights still glowing in the downtown

The Christmas decorations along the main streets in downtown London, Ontario, are quite simple. Now that it is almost mid January, the lights will soon be gone until next year. You know, even though they are quite simple, I'll miss them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Night Fun with Camera, Snow and Lights

Winter has finally come to London, Ontario, and snow now blankets the city. This homeowner is still turning on his Christmas lights despite it being well into the new year.

Below is a silly picture shot quickly through the windshield of my car. It shows a van moving by a home with a few Christmas lights. The circles are camera movement. I'm not as steady as I once was.

Let's call this one art.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

A cool corridor

It was Wellington Square. Then it expanded to become Galleria London. Now, it is the Citi Plaza. Where once there were rows of stores crowded tightly together, there is now the University of Western Ontario continuing studies program.

The corridor is one of two spans linking the two halves of the giant development. At one time there was a Koala Blue store in the other span and one could look down on King Street from the store's large window. Today only a few recall Koala Blue, the dream of Olivia Newton-John. And few remember Galleria London was the dream of Canadian developer Robert Campeau. Both dreams are now badly faded.

Nice corridor, though . . .

Monday, January 4, 2010

Outside is cold; Inside is warm.

Ah, the beauty of central heat. When it is cold outside, just touch the thermostat. You have to love it.

The second decade of the century is now almost through the fourth day. The storm that dumped 50 cm of snow on my home has wrapped it up but it left some really cold temperatures. The kids at the school where my wife works didn't go outside today - too cold.

A perfect day for doing a jigsaw puzzle with grandma.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Best to stay off roads deep with snow

I guess this young man didn't hear that authorities were recommending staying off snow clogged roads. A winter storm Saturday continued all night and off and on Sunday, leaving many roads, especially in the suburbs, clogged with snow. My backyard had 50 cm. of snow with the depth deeper in the drifts.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1st snow storm of year and 50 cm plus buries my London home

Possibly as much as 20 cm of snow fell on parts of London Saturday. (I just checked the depth of snow in my backyard: 50 cm as of Sunday morning. It is deeper on my compost bin but I'm not fighting drifts to reach it and take an accurate measurement.)

The storm is expected to continue off and on through Sunday depending upon the strength of the lake effect snow squalls.

Hwy 402 west of London was closed because of white outs Saturday afternoon, as was the Bluewater Highway south of Bayfield. Strong snow streamers coming from both Lake Huron and Georgian Bay brought snow squalls, and winds gusting from 50 to 60 km/h, to large swathes of Southwestern Ontario.

Even trees are bundled up against the cold, and the snow

Finally, a real  snowfall. New Year's Eve was relatively snow-free but the first day of the new decade was a different story. There was a lot of snow. It is now early in the morning of January 2 and the snow is still falling. I'll be getting some exercise shoveling the driveway come daybreak.

And the trees, if you are not from a country with heavy snowfalls, are wrapped in burlap to protect them from snow damage. A heavy fall of the winter white stuff can bend and even break tree limbs.