Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Warrior Emperor and Air Conditioning at the ROM


To beat the heat, I joined the family on a visit to the Royal Ontario Museum. The air conditioning was cool and so were the terracotta warriors.

I saw ten life size figures and horses from the tomb of China’s warrior emperor, Ying Zheng. In 1974 the Warrior Emperor’s tomb was discovered in China along with 8000 terracotta figures, all different. They’d been buried for over 2,200 years. Boy did they have some catching up to do.

The Warrior Emperor had a busy life. At 13, he became the King of Qin, then went on to build an empire to rival Rome but his empire lasted much longer. During his lifetime, he started many building projects including a section of the Great Wall of China.

To find out more about him, check out the ROM’s Warrior Emperor and Terracotta Warrior exhibit.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Saving my Rubber


Whether you're on a trip or at home, it’s important to wear sun screen, especially in the summer. I always lather some on my rubber skin every morning and touch it up during the day.

Sun screen is a fairly new product. The first sunscreen that worked was created in 1938 and called Glacier Cream. It only had a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 2. The one Mom buys has an SPF of 70.

In 1944 another product came out called Red Vet Pet. It was a yukky, red, sticky goo, kind of like petroleum jelly, (you know the stuff that moms rub on baby’s bums to protect them from rashes).

This stuff became popular during WWII because soldiers in the Pacific needed something to protect them from sunburns. The product really took off when the patent was sold to Coppertone in the 1950s.

Todays sunscreens are much improved. They even stay on when you go in the water or sweat…and its not yukky and red anymore.

So whether you're on a tropical island or just hanging around the back yard, take a minute, rub it on and protect your skin from the sun.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Chicken on the Beach


You don’t always need to go a far way to get the tropical beach experience. Here I am catching some rays at a beach in Long Point, Ontario.

Long Point isn’t only a beautiful beach. Its sand dunes and marshes are also home to many types of birds, fish, frogs and turtles. On one visit, we even watched a mother turtle dig a hole and lay her eggs!

This is the perfect summer place. Often my family camps at the provincial park. I love to watch the fireflies at night. Other times, we just come out for a day of swimming and relaxing.

If you’re in Ontario for the summer, come check out Long Point Provincial Park.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Tea Time for the Peckish


As I scratch around in the back yard, I find myself still thinking about high tea. High tea is served all over the world. Some of Mom’s favourite tea houses are in New York City, Boston and Victoria, B.C.

These days high tea is considered very fancy. Goodies like tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off, fancy appetizers, scones with clotted cream, pastries and of course tea, are served on fancy dishes called china. You would be in big trouble if you broke any of these cups or saucers.

Formal high tea has come a long way from what it used to be during the industrial revolution. Back then, only poor or working class people would have high tea.

Most of the poor people could only afford one main meal a day and that was lunch time, (they called it dinner). By the time they got home from work around 6pm they were starving so they would set the table with leftovers from lunch and whatever else they could scrape up, usually meats, bread, butter, pickles, cheese and of course tea. No fancy sandwiches or pastries for the working class.

Because the meal was eaten at a high table (not a low tea table), it was called high tea or meat tea.

All this talk about tea has left me feeling a little peckish. I think pour myself a cup and drink it with some chicken feed.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tea Time with Bob


Tea time is an English tradition. In preparation for any future visits to Britain, I decided to have high tea at The White House in Waterdown, Ontario. I probably should have worn something a little more fancy but I still felt like a very sophisticated rubber chicken.

Most people think that the custom of tea time came from Britain but it really began in France. People were drinking tea in Paris in 1636…that’s 22 years before it arrived in England! Tea quickly became a big hit with the rich French people. As a matter of fact, it was the French who started adding milk to their tea.

Before tea came to Britain, the English only had two main meals a day; breakfast and dinner. Dinner was eaten in the middle of the day, often with a glass of ale.

Over time, the upper and middle class moved dinner to the evening when they would eat lots and lots of food over an hour or two. They felt it was more fashionable to eat at the end of the day.

Like many people of that time, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, named Anna, The Duchess of Bedford (1788-1861) found that she was really hungry by 4pm. She would have her servants sneak her a pot of tea and some nibbles to tide her over until dinner.

Soon she started inviting her hungry friends over to her rooms at 5pm for small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, sweets and tea. She would send them cards inviting them to come for “tea and a walking in the fields.” Other social hostesses caught on to this trend and that’s how the custom of afternoon tea began.

Personally, I find the whole tea time, dinner time, breakfast time, lunch time thing rather confusing. Things would be so much easier if people were like chickens and pecked pieces of grain off the ground whenever they felt like it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Coffee with Richard Scrimger


Some may think I’m just another pretty face but I also have a cultured, literary side. I’ve read many of the worlds greatest classics including Walter the Farting Dog, Captain Underpants, Horrible Histories and The Nose from Jupiter.

This week I’ve been mixing with some of Canada’s great authors at The Humber School for Writers in Toronto, Ontario. Here’s a picture of me giving author Richard Scrimger some valuable suggestions for his next book over a cup of coffee.

Richard also gave me some helpful advice. “Bob, the coffee shop’s around the corner.”

Richard writes for both kids and adults. He’s hatched fifteen books in his career including The Nose from Jupiter series of four books, The Way to Schenectady, Of Mice & Nutcrackers, From Charlie’s Point of View and Into the Ravine. I just picked up his latest teen book called Me and Death.

For more information, check out Richard Scrimger on line.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Searching for the Sacred Chicken at Bon Echo


I went camping at Bon Echo Provincial Park. There were many fun things to do including swimming, hiking and eating but my favourite was renting a canoe to check out the pictographs on Mazinaw Rock…Ok, it actually tied with eating.

I bet you’re wondering what a pictograph is.

Pictographs are rock paintings that can be found all over the world. It’s thought that in Ontario and at Bon Echo the pictographs were created by The Algonquin Tribe, one of Canada’s native people. The pictures found on the rock were made between 400 and 900 years ago.

These 260 drawings were created to mark territories, important events or made for spiritual reasons. They are usually located three feet above the water.

On Mazinaw Rock you can see drawings such as the Thunderbird and the Underwater Lynx. I’m sure if you look hard enough you might be able to find a sacred chicken.

The Bon Echo drawings were painted with the mineral hematite or red ochre. Natives painted these images with their fingers, sticks or paint brushes made from plant material.

We don’t ever want to lose these historical drawings so remember DO NOT TOUCH OR PECK THE PICTOGRAPHS.

You can find out more about these pictures at the Visitor’s Centre.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Camping with the Chicken


Schools finally out and I’m off to our annual Canada Day camping trip. It’s supposed to be nice so I won’t forget to wear my suntan lotion when I catch some rays. Check out my blog next week for my latest camping adventures and tips.

HAPPY CANADA DAY

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ghostly Woman in Quebec City


I love a good ghost story. I found one in Quebec City at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the oldest Anglican cathedral in Quebec City.

Many people have seen a lady floating around the balcony in the church. This lady especially seems to affect organists who hear a female cry and feel cold chills while they practice. Sometimes the organ plays by itself or footsteps are heard when no one is around. Now that’s enough to give anyone goose bumps...oops, I already had those.

Animals also feel the ghostly presence and are at times nervous and jumpy when in the church.

Queen Elizabeth II actually saw the ghost on the balcony when she visited in 1964. She was spooked and let me tell you, she’s no chicken.

Who is this lady ghost?

One theory is that it’s the ghost of a former nun who had a baby. The baby died and is said to be buried in an unmarked grave in the church crypt. Organists have found that if they put toys on the grave, they are allowed to practice in peace. It’s as though she is watching over her child!

Another theory is that it’s a lady who was mistakenly buried alive near the church during an outbreak of cholera.

A third theory is that it’s a woman that was buried in the church’s foundation during construction in 1799-1804.

Whoever she is, this tortured soul still continues to visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Gonna Wash those Lice Right Outa My Hair


This morning I bathed myself in lavender, so I’m smelling sweet and am ready to talk about this plant from the dark ages all the way to modern times. You can read about lavender during ancient times in my last post.

Dark and Medieval Ages (AKA the time of Knights)

People in the dark ages had forgotten about lavender and its uses.

Only the monks and nuns in the monasteries grew lavender and used it for medicinal reasons. This is probably because only the very rich, monks and nuns knew how to read and write. There were no printing presses so only books that were hand copied, usually by monks, were available. In copying ancient manuscripts about the medical effects of different plants, the monks learned about the uses for lavender.

Hildegard of Bingen,a German nun, wrote that lavender oil was a good treatment for head lice (yuck) and fleas (double yuck).

Tudor Times and the Renaissance

Henry VIII, (you know, the English king that chopped off his wives heads), unwittingly increased lavender’s popularity. To get more cash, he closed down the monasteries and sent the monks packing. He gave monastery buildings to people he wanted to reward…usually ones that had done him favours.

Many of these monasteries came with fields of lavender so the ladies of the manor used the flowers in their linens and to freshen the air. They even mixed it with beeswax to make furniture polish and scented water with it. They often hung their laundry to dry over the lavender shrubs. People at this time associated lavender with cleanliness. It didn’t take them long to realize that lavender was also great for getting rid of insects as well.

Queen Elizabeth I of England adored the smell of lavender. She drank it in tea, used it as a perfume, and to treat her migraine headaches. Because the Queen loved it so much, it became really popular and many farmers grew lavender to meet the demand.

In France people used lavender to protect them from infections. It was noticed that glove makers who perfumed their wares with lavender, usually didn’t catch cholera.

By the 1600’s people saw lavender as a cure all and used it for headaches, nerves, bug bites, even snake bites.

People would tie bunches of lavender around their wrists because they thought it would protect them against the Great Plague. This may not have been a crazy as it sounds. After all, the plague was carried by the lice (which are insects) on the rats.

Grave robbers made a mixture called Four Thieves Vinegar which contained lavender. Another story says that four robbers rubbed their bodies with a mixture of lavender, absinthe, rue, sage, mint, rosemary and vinegar to protect them selves from infection before they broke into the homes of plague victims. Gross!

Victorian Times

Queen Victoria was a big fan of lavender and so it became very fashionable among the ladies and soon lavender was found in almost every Victorian home and garden.

WWI

Lavender was used to treat war wounds and was often used as an antiseptic. It was even used to get rid of fleas on dogs!

Modern Times

Today, people still grow lavender and use it to scent homes, flavour foods and for natural health remedies. Scientists are even researching uses in cancer treatments.

Provence, France is the largest producer of lavender but other suppliers include Canada, USA, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, Japan, Bulgaria, Russia, and Germany.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Lavender and the Prevention of Stinky Feet


I visited a Neob Lavender Boutique and greenhouse in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada. After taking a really cool tour of the growing area, I spent some time sniffing out the history of these pretty flowers.

This herb has had many names over its 2500 year history, including Nardus (named after the city of Naardus in Syria), Spikenard (because of the shape of its flowers) and Lavender (after either the latin word ‘lavare’ which means to wash or ‘livendulo’ which means bluish.)

Lavender is mentioned over and over again in different cultures, time periods and places.

Ancient Egypt
King Tut had his own stash of lavender. We know this because they found some in his tomb. The Egyptians used lavender for perfumes, cosmetics and mummification but only royalty and rich people could afford it. The Egyptians even made special contraptions called stills so they could extract its oils.

Biblical Times
Lavender is mentioned many times in the bible but it was called spikenard. According to the bible, Mary wiped Jesus’ feet with an expensive ointment made of lavender.

Ancient Greece
The Greeks learned about lavender from the Egyptians. Where the Egyptians used the scent on their heads, the Greeks used it on their feet. That’s probably the better way to go since your feet usually stink a lot more than your head does…especially if those feet have been sweating in a pair of old running shoes all day.

The Greeks also explored the healing qualities of this plant.

Ancient Rome
The Romans took it a step further and bathed in lavender water. After all, if lavender helped stinky feet, why not smelly arm pits?

They put lavender in linen drawers and in their laundry. They even hung the flowers around the house…I can see where this would be especially in handy in the washroom.

The Romans really appreciated lavender’s healing and antiseptic qualities. It helped keep away insects because bugs hate the scent. A Greek military doctor under the rule of Emperor Nero studied the medical uses of this plant and found that it helped tummy aches, gas, sore throats and headaches. The Romans also used lavender to clean wounds and burns.

Arabs
Some of the first types of lavender were probably grown by the Arabs. They used the plant for healing.

Look for my next post when I tell you gruesome lavender stories from the Great Plague and more.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Doing the Chicken Dance on Pont d'Avignon


There is an old song from the 15th century that we still sing today called Sur le Pont d'Avignon. It’s famous all over the world. You may remember it from French class.

The chorus goes like this:

Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse, l’on y danse
Sur le pont d’Avignon
L’on y danse tous en rond

Which in English means:

On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there, we all dance there
On the bridge of Avignon
We all dance there in a ring

To hear the song click HERE.

Well there really is a bridge across the Rhone River in Southern France and here is a picture of me standing on it.

We know the bridge as Pont d’Avignon but it’s also known as Pont Saint-Benezit. Legend says that it was named after a young shepherd named Benezet who caused the bridge to be built in the 12th century. (Wow that was so long ago that Dad wasn’t even out of diapers yet).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Limo for Grandma and Grandpa



I’ve been a busy bird lately, living the highlife while driving around in a stretch limousine. My family rented it to celebrate Grandma and Grandpa’s 60th wedding anniversary.

We took Grandma and Grandpa to visit wineries in the Niagara Escarpment. Because us kids couldn’t sip wine, we got to have sodas, cheese and chocolates. There were also many gardens to explore…one even had a toad pond!

I must say, my favourite part was the limousine. Once upon a time, only rich and famous people like movie stars got to drive in this type of car. Now people can rent them for special occasions. There’s nothing like arriving in a limo if you want to make a big entrance.

A limousine is usually a stretched sedan or saloon car. Ten people fit into the one we rented. Limos usually have a partition between the passengers and the chauffer (driver).

Our family doesn’t usually drive in limos, but for Grandma and Grandpa's 60th, we wanted to do something really special. And it was.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Birds Eye View of the Eiffel Tower


Think of Paris, France and most people think of the Eiffel Tower.

In 1885 the French were planning the Great Exposition to mark the 100th Anniversary of the French Revolution. They wanted a monument and they wanted to build the world’s tallest building.

Many Parisians hated the idea because they worried that it would ruin the look of the Paris skyline.

Despite complaints, French officials announced a competition for the best design of an iron tower in the Champs de Mars (a French park). The main rules were that the tower had to make enough money from ticket sales to pay for its construction and it had to be temporary and easily taken down at the end of the Exposition.

There were some weird entries into the competition. One person designed a large guillotine shaped tower. Another proposed a 1000 ft sprinkler that could water all of Paris when it got really dry.

Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel got the job. The government agree to keep the tower up for 20 years if he paid for most of the construction. He also got to keep the ticket sale money for those first 20 years. The tower didn’t take long to pay for itself and Mr. Eiffel made more than just chicken feed from his project.

It took only two years to build the tower.

Bring a compass with you when you visit the tower and you’ll see that its legs point exactly north, south, east and west.

It’s a bummer but during busy periods, you can wait for hours to get into the tower.

My favourite thing to do is to pack a picnic, go in the evening, sit in the Champs de Mars and watch all the lights on the tower sparkle for ten minutes, every hour. It’s magical.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Rubber Chicken visits Hanauma Bay, Hawaii


Here I am on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, overlooking the beautiful Hanauma Bay. Hawaiians pronounce it ha-na-OO-ma Bay.

The bay is a marine wildlife preservation where you can swim with thousands of beautiful fish and sea creatures in their natural habitat. You must watch a 12 minute film before exploring this living reef within a sunken volcano. If you forget your snorkelling equipment, you can rent some there.

Over 1,000,000 people visit a year so go early if you don’t want to stand in line. In this case, the early bird catches the worm…or should I say fish.

The following are some rules to keep both you and the fish safe. I added a rule of my own as well:

Hanauma Bay Rules to Live by:
1. Don’t feed the fish.
2. Don’t touch or disturb the marine life. That includes the coral.
3. Never turn your back on the ocean.
4. Snorkel with a buddy.
5. Don’t step on the reef.
6. Don’t stick your hands or body into holes in the reef.
7. Never give an eel mouth to mouth resuscitation

Friday, May 7, 2010

$50.00 Reward for Finding my Twin Brother


Has anyone seen a rubber chicken that looks exactly like me?

I've searched the internet and asked my friends, but no one has seen him.

My missing brother is the only one that can help me with all my travel obligations. The Hubert family would give him a good home. Mom even said she would pay $50.00 for my identical twin.

To find a description and my measurements, check out my February 26th post.

Send me a comment if you have a twin or know where I can find one.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Art and the Rubber Chicken


I had a fun time at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

I saw all kinds of cool artwork from classic to quirky.

Mom loved the Rembrandt, Pissarro and Tom Thompson paintings. She also spent a lot of time looking at a Degas ballerina statue.

When we go to art galleries, Mom always gives me a page with ten pictures on it. I then need to find the pictures in the gallery. It’s like a treasure hunt!

My favourite sculpture was the one I’m pictured with. For some reason, I really relate to it.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rubber Chicken Mummy Missing from King Tut's Tomb


Yesterday I checked out the King Tut Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

It was great! Not only did I see King Tut’s stuff, I also learned a lot about his relatives and saw some of their belongings.

Those Egyptians were big on the whole after-life thing. They even mummified their beloved pets. Search as I could, I didn’t find any mummified chicken information.

In the past, Egyptologists believed that King Tut was murdered but just recently, through modern technology they found that he probably died of Malaria.

It’s been rumoured that there was a curse on King Tut’s tomb. Supposedly an inscription in the tomb said “Death will slay with his wings whoever disturbs the peace of the pharaoh”.

To find out the facts check out the Life of King Tut site.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Illegally Blonde


As you know, I really enjoy going on trips and I love to read books that take place in different countries. That’s why I was really excited when the book Illegally Blonde by Nelsa Roberto hit the shelves. It takes place in Canada and Portugal.

The book’s about a teenage girl named Lucy and her family who are deported to Portugal. Lucy is furious at being forced to move to a small Portugese village, miss prom and leave her boyfriend. How far will Lucy go to get back home?

Although the book is considered teen fiction, Mom loved it…and she’s at least 24.

Mom and I attended the launch for Illegally Blonde on Sunday. Here’s a picture of me giving author Nelsa Roberto a congratulatory peck.

You can pick your book up at the local Chapters or go to Nelsa’s blog, Out of the Wordwork.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dolphins of Atlantis


One really fun place to go is the Atlantis Resort in Bahamas.

I love the cool water park with its tons of slides. Here I am in front of the Mayan Temple.

Atlantis has a really neat marine habitat called the Dig. It’s themed around the fabled city of Atlantis. Over 50,000 marine animals live in the different displays. You can even snorkel with the Mantas here.

In another area you can actually walk under-water with the sharks. You don’t need to swim but you do need to wear a clear glass helmet. I ended up wearing a plastic pop bottle over my head but humans get a state of the art helmet.

My favourite animals are the Dolphins. There are a number of dolphin interaction programs to choose from including shallow water encounters, swimming with the dolphins and trainer for a day.

Dolphins are very intelligent. They communicate by squeaking or whistling through their blowholes. In the wild they live in pods (groups) of 10-30 animals and hunt fish by using something called echolocation which is like sonar; they send out clicking noises and listen for the return echo. From the echo they can figure out the location and shape of things around them.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rubber Chickens at Sainte Chapelle


I couldn’t figure out what would be exciting about the gothic Sainte Chapelle church in Paris, France. So what if Louis IX, King of France built it in 1246.

My attitude soon changed when I went into the top chapel with all its stained glass.

The windows were stored during the war so that they wouldn’t be damaged. Most of the glass (2/3) is still original from King Louis’ time!

The best part is that every window panel tells a story. William and I spent over a half hour trying to find pictures of rubber chickens in the stained glass.

Guess what? We found one! Check out the picture. Doesn’t it look like the king is about to hit that guy over the head with a rubber chicken?

Supposedly there’s a secret door in the chapel but William and I didn’t find it because we were too busy looking for stained glass pictures.

If you go to Paris, you have to check it out. And don’t forget to let me know if you find any more rubber chickens in the glass.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sounding off with Ancient Greeks in Epidaurus


Here I am enjoying a quiet moment with friends at the amphitheatre of Epidaurus in Greece.

The ancient Greeks believed that Epidaurus was the birthplace of Apollo’s son, Esclepium, god of medicine. Over 2,500 years ago Epidaurus became a healing centre or sanctuary. With the money collected from thankful patients, a theatre was built beside the medical centre in honour of Dionysus, the god of acting.

The Greeks believed that entertainment had healing qualities. Now that I think of it, they were probably right. I find a good movie or play always lifts my spirits.

The original Greek theatre started out with 34 semi-circular rows of limestone seats built into the hillside. A few hundred years later, the Romans added 21 more rows. The theatre now seats over 14,000 people.

This theatre is special because it has perfect acoustics. In plain English, if a chicken on stage lets out a soft cluck, everyone can hear it, even the people sitting in the 55th row.
Boy was Dad embarrassed when I squawked!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hanging with the Gators in Florida



Did you know that the official state reptile of Florida is the Alligator?

You have to admit they are kind of cool in a creepy, horror movie kind of way.

Usually these creatures stay away from people but every now and then a nasty one comes along. It’s illegal to feed wild alligators in Florida because in doing so they may learn to associate people with food and lose their natural fear.

It’s also illegal to water ski after dark in Florida. That's because alligators are noctural and hunt at night.

The American Alligator lives about 50 years and can grow between 6 ½ and 13 feet. The largest alligator found was over 19 feet.

Believe it or not, gators can run up to 38 km/h for short periods of time. You definitely don’t want one chasing you.

These reptiles swallow their food whole. Larger gators eat fish, turtles, snakes, small mammals, smaller alligators, water birds and unsuspecting chickens…Gulp.

Gee, I think I better get myself out of here!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Feathered Dinosaurs at Science North


When I heard that many scientists believe modern-day birds are descended from dinosaurs, I had to check it out. So off I went to Sudbury, Ontario’s Science North to see a special exhibit called Dinosaurs Unearthed.

It was fabulous. I learned that dinosaur fossils with feathers were recently discovered in China! Many scientists even think that baby T-Rexes were covered in a type of feather to keep them warm. Here’s a picture with me and a cuddly animatronic (that means it moves) baby T-Rex.

Speaking of animatronic, there are 14 full sized moving dinosaur figures in the exhibit and almost 30 fossil replicas. They even have eggs.

Don’t miss out. The exhibit leaves Science North in September

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ghostly Happenings at the Banff Springs Hotel


I feel like I’m in a fairytale castle when I visit Banff Springs Hotel. There are so many fun things to do here. Swimming in its hot springs in the middle of winter is very neat. There's even a bowling alley here.

I love the scavenger hunt through the hotel which you can get at the concierge desk.

There are many ghost stories about the Banff Springs Hotel which is no surprise considering that it is well over a hundred years old.

In 1932 a woman died here on her wedding day when she fell down a flight of stairs. A year later, in the middle of the night, hotel staff heard music coming from the Rob Roy ballroom. When investigating they saw the image of a bride dancing by herself.

A bellman named Sam Macauley is also said to haunt the hotel. In life he worked there for many years. Just before he died in 1976, he said he loved the hotel so much that he planned on haunting it after he moved on.

Since then a bellman matching Sam’s description and wearing an old fashioned uniform helped two women get into their locked room and was seen walking through a wall.

I’m surprised there are no stories of chicken ghosts, seeing as many of the hotels fine restaurants serve chicken dishes.

Whether these stories are true or not, they add to the beauty and mystery of this gorgeous hotel.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Riding the Cowcatcher with Lady Agnes


On a visit to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff, I met Lady Agnes. Well, I didn’t exactly meet her because she’s been dead for awhile, but I heard a pretty wild story about her.

From looking at her picture, you would think she was just a run-of-the-mill little old lady. Lady Agnes Macdonald proved that looks are often deceiving.

In 1886, Lady Agnes took a train trip across Canada. She was so thrilled with the beauty of the Rockies that she had someone attach a candle box to the cowcatcher at the front of the train. There she sat with her skirts whipping in the wind for the rest of the trip.

Now that’s my type of Grandma.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

At Banff with my Head in the Clouds


Over 4 million people and rubber chickens visit Banff National Park in a year. This week I'm one of them. Established in 1885, this beautiful place became the first national park in Canada.

Banff National Park is exciting. It’s filled with mountains (the Rockies), animals, cool places and stories both weird and wonderful.

Did I mention mountains? There are lots. Nestled in them is the town of Banff which is the highest town in Canada at an elevation of 1,383 metres or 4,537 feet.There were many times yesterday that I walked in clouds.How’s that for being high up.

The highest mountain in Banff National Park is Mt. Forbes at 3,612 metres or 11,850 ft.

Mountains in the park are ancient, ranging between 45 and 120 million years old.

I can’t wait to explore some more today!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Bob's Night Out



Bet you didn’t know that besides good looking, I’m also cultured. Here I am sipping a latte at Prana Coffee in Toronto on Tuesday night as Mom and I attend an author’s reading night.

Presented by Sherry Isaac, nine authors entertained the audience with stories. Kimberly Scutt read a chapter from my not yet published “Kids Travel Guide of Venice,” while I cheered her on from the sidelines. Adoring fans were everywhere.

I must say, I looked like a cool celebrity in my leather motor cycle jacket and helmet. It wouldn’t surprise me to see newspapers and magazines highlighting my new look.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Mysteries at York Minster Cathedral


Here’s a great shot of Mom giving me a kiss under the stained glass heart of York Minster Cathedral, in England. You can't see the heart in the picture because it's too high above us. There’s an old legend stating that those who kiss under the heart, stay in love forever. I must say, Dad was looking rather jealous.

York Minster Cathedral is the largest gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. The first building on this site was a military headquarters during the Roman occupation of England. Stories of Roman ghost sightings at the church are plentiful.

There are so many fun things to discover here. One of my favourites is in the East end of the church. If you look in the north choir aisle you’ll find a bunch of panels that show animals and birds that can be found in other areas of the Minster. I like to write down the animals and search for them. Here’s a hint, look in windows, carvings and on tombs.

Don’t forget to search for York Minster’s mysterious green men. Green men are carvings of faces surrounded by leaves and vines. The history of these figures can be traced back to ancient times and symbolise springtime and rebirth.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sugar Shack Shenanigans





It was a gorgeous day in Huntsville, Ontario, Canada. I joined the family in checking out Deerhurst Resort’s Maple Sugar Tour.

Chowing down on maple sugar treats, I wondered, who first figured out that a tree could hide such yumminess inside. I soon found the answer to this and more from my new friends Brian and Dave at the Sugar Shack.

No one knows for sure but most stories agree that the native peoples of North America discovered maple sap and syrup. One legend says that the Iroquois Chief Woksis, in a fit of frustration, threw his tomahawk into a maple tree after an unsuccessful hunting trip. (I’m glad I wasn’t standing near him). The bucket that his wife used to collect water for cooking sat empty at the base of the tree. The next morning, the chief took his axe to go hunting again and this time came home with a deer. Sap had dripped out of the gash in the tree and filled the bucket. His wife thought that the bucket was filled with water and used it to cook the meat. Chief Woksis, his wife and their son, Little Woksis sat down to dinner that night and the conversation went something like this:

Chief Woksis: Hmmm. Good deer, wife. Very sweet. It tastes better than usual.
Wife: I don’t know why. I cooked it the usual way with the water from the bucket.
Chief: I forgot to fill the bucket today.
They both look at little Woksis in horror.
Little Woksis: Don’t look at me. I didn’t pee in the bucket. It must be that dripping tree .

They soon realized that the sap was sweet and when boiled it turned into syrup. When it got really hot, it became a sugar. Because they didn’t have many sweeteners, this sugar became very popular. The aboriginal people taught the settlers how to farm the sap and make the sugar.

In the old days, the settlers often used maple sugar as a currency to trade. They collected the sap with taps and buckets.

Now, they use a system of blue tubes from each tree spigot that are threaded through the trees and then attached to a large line which empties into a big syrup collection tank. The maple syrup producers repair the lines regularly. Most of the time wind or falling branches mess up the tubes but sometimes animals are the cause. Brian told us about a bear coming out of hibernation that decided to snack on the blue lines. Squirrels and deer also gnaw through the tubes to get to the sweetness.

Before we left the Sugar Shack, we sampled apple cider, maple muffins and maple toffee which we cooled in the snow before eating. Yum.

I listened to adults talk about their favourite maple recipes but knew it was time to leave when someone mentioned maple chicken tenders.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Facts that are Crazy and True, from the Zoo


I spent today at the Toronto Zoo. I found out really cool things about some of the creatures I saw:

Gorillas

Did you know that Gorillas are the largest of the great apes and only live in some tropical areas of Central Africa?

An adult gorilla’s arms are 20% longer than their legs and they walk using both their arms and legs, supporting themselves on their knuckles.

Gorillas live in family groups of between 6 and 30 other gorillas.

I was relieved to find out that Gorillas are vegetarians and have no interest in BBQ Chicken.

Polar Bears

These guys are the world's largest land predators. They would happily eat a chicken. They could clear out a whole hen house and still have room for dessert. Luckily, there aren’t too many chickens running around in the arctic so they mostly eat seals.

As I said before, they are really big. An adult male can weigh up to 1500 lbs, a female up to 550 lbs.

The females usually have two cubs which can stay with the mother for up to 2 ½ years.

Turtles

Turtles and tortoises evolved before mammals, birds, (including chickens), crocodiles, snakes and lizards. They've been on earth for over 200 million years.

Some turtle species can live for over 100 years.

There are species of turtles found on every continent in the world except for Antarctica.

Turtles can breath through their butts…Now doesn’t that just give the phrase ‘morning breath’ a whole new meaning.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Gory Legend from Krakow


Here I am in Krakow, Poland. I’m standing in the Main Market Square which is the largest medieval town square in Europe.

Look behind me and you’ll see a gothic church named St. Mary’s Church. Did you notice that the towers are different from each other? One of the towers is much taller.

There’s a gruesome legend about the towers. Those of you with squeamish stomachs, stop reading now.

Back in the 15th century, there were two brothers skilled in architecture. They were asked by the town’s people to build the new church towers.

Once the building started, it became obvious that the younger brother wasn’t as talented an architect as his sibling. No matter how hard he tried, his tower didn’t rise as quickly as his brother’s. He became very jealous.

Finally, he became so envious that he stabbed his brother to death.

After calming down, he felt awful about what he’d done. He climbed up the highest tower and threw himself down.

The supposed murder weapon still hangs above one of the doors in the old Cloth Hall across the square.

Now this is just a legend, but let it be a lesson to us all. Sibling rivalry never pays.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tiki Talk


This is a great shot of me cuddling up with a Hawaiian Tiki God.

Tikis are carved from wood or stone. You can find them all over Polynesia including Hawaii, New Zealand and Easter Island.

Tikis are not just scary statues. Some Polynesians believe that Tiki was the first man ever created…kind of like Adam.

The ancient Polynesians carved Tikis to look like their gods or goddesses. These people believed that the Tiki sculpture contained the spirit of that god.

Tikis became popular with people outside of Polynesia around the 1950’s, after WWII. These days you will have no problem finding both tacky and nice Tiki souvenirs to bring home.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ravens at the Tower


Here I am at the Tower of London in England. Take a good look at the Raven in the picture. He’s really important.

There’s an old English superstition that says if the ravens ever leave the Tower of London, the monarchy and kingdom will fall.

Most people don’t believe this but to be on the safe side, the British Government pays to take really good care of ten tower ravens. They keep six official ravens and four spare ones…just in case.

A Beefeater (also known as Yeoman Warder) is put in charge of caring for these birds.

During WWII all the ravens except one died from the shock of bombing raids. The British quickly replenished the flock.

In 2006 the Beefeaters brought the birds inside for a few months to make sure they didn’t catch avian flu. I still say they should have done the same thing for all those unfortunate chickens.

The ravens don’t fly away because the flight feathers on their wings are clipped. It doesn’t hurt the birds, it just makes flight difficult.

Ravens live between 25-45 years, unless they come to an early, unfortunate end. The tower’s oldest raven was named Jim Crow. He was 44 when he kicked the bucket.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Mystery in the Airplane Toilet



Winter break is just around the corner and some of you may be flying to a holiday destination. Have you ever given a thought about what happens to the contents of those airplane toilets?

Airplane toilets are different than the ones at home. Most land toilets work on a gravity based plan; when you flush, approximately 6 litres of water fills the bowl. It’s then sent with the waste down to the sewer. This system wouldn’t work on an airplane because if the plane goes through a bumpy spot, the water would splash all over the person perched on the toilet. Depending on where they were in the process, it could get really ugly.

Airplane toilets use a powerful vacuum which makes a rather frightening noise. About 2 litres of blue cleaning liquid helps clean out the bowl as the yucky contents are sucked through narrow pipes to the holding tank.

In the old days, when bucket toilets were still used, airlines dropped the contents unto the unsuspecting world below. Now this is illegal, however, accidents have happened when a leak occurs in a jet washroom.

At higher altitudes the leak turns into blue ice. When the plane descends it starts to thaw and creates an unappealing missile which falls to the earth.

A number of years ago in California, a blue poopsickle hurtled from the sky and broke through the skylight of a boat. The owner took the airline to court and won.

Close your umbrellas, guys. This was an unusual case.

Once waste goes to the airplane holding tank, it cannot be released from inside the plane. It can only be pumped out of a valve on the outside of the aircraft. The smelly gunk is then sent to a waste treatment facility.

Personally, I still prefer the drop as you fly method used by my fellow birds.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Desperately Seeking my Twin



I was a spring chicken when I joined the Hubert family. My body was sleek, paint unchipped and I had a squawk that put nails on a blackboard to shame.

My love of travelling began when my new family took me on their European vacation. Since then I’ve visited over sixteen countries and became the star character in Mom’s stories. As you can see, I even have my own blog.

Although I’ve had a wonderful time, the years have taken their toll. My squawk box is worn out and I’m in dire need of plastic surgery. My beak has hardened and is in danger of falling off, (or crumbling). Despite an extensive search, we’ve yet to find a rubber chicken rehabilitation service.

I’d like to take a break some times and lie by the pool drinking Gatoraide, but can’t until we find a twin to assist with my duties. I’ve scoured local stores and the internet with no luck. Even EBay came up empty.

If anyone has a rubber chicken that looks exactly like me, Mom would be delighted to give him (the chicken) a loving home filled with fun and adventure and a monetary reward. Please send pictures (more than one at different angles), of available rubber chickens to rubberchickentogo@hotmail.com . Remember, I’m looking for an exact replica (minus wear and tear).

Here are my measurements in cm:
9.5cm – neck
38 cm- butt circumference
55cm – height from comb to toes

I’ve also attached a few pictures.

If I have any more family members out there, now is the time to make your self known.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Welcome Fellow Explorers


Hello out there. It’s me; Bob, Bob Hubert. Yeah I know. I’m a rubber chicken, but not just any rubber chicken.

When I was created, a lightning bolt zapped the rubber chicken factory and zig-zagged down the assembly line smacking me right in my squawk box. Shazzam! That volt turned me into Bob; a walking, talking rubber chicken.

Unfortunately, the factory workers didn’t get my specialness and shipped me off to a department store where I sat on the shelf for a really long time. Finally a boy named William Hubert heard my squawk for help and bought me.

I became part of the Hubert family. William has a Mom, Dad and nasty teenage sister named Meghan.

Since then I’ve travelled the world and shared lots of adventures with my new family.

Hey guys, join the flock and share my travels as I give you a bird’s eye view of some really cool places. Check my blog every Tuesday and Friday for updates.

Welcome to ‘Travelling Rubber Chicken.com’.