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News Item #1:

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but we have a Japanese ESL (English as a Second Language) student living with us for 4 months.  Because 7 people in one house isn’t enough.  Anyhoo, I asked him about the famous Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake.  Get this, he had never heard of it!  I’m ashamed to say that I doubted either his understanding of English, his honesty or his intelligence.  It didn’t add up.  The good folks in Toronto were lining up for famous cheesecake that was unknown in Japan?  How could this be?  I emailed my dear friend, Uryuko, in Tokyo and she also had never heard of Uncle Tetsu’s.  Sacre bleu!!  Her curiosity drove her to do some research whereupon she discovered that the chain was from the south of Japan.  No Uncle Tetsu’s in Tokyo!

cherry blossoms japan3

Cherry blossoms in Japan, 2015 (both photos sent to me by Youryuko

Cherry blossoms, Japan 2015 (both photos sent to me by Uryuko)

News Item #2:

It may be cherry blossom season in Japan, but here in Canada, it’s ramp season. Ramps (aka wild garlic) only come out for a short period in early spring.  In Quebec, they have become so over-harvested that it is now illegal to pick them for commercial purposes (ie more than 50 bulbs).  In Ontario, picking is still allowed and we are lucky enough to have friends with a property that simply bursts with ramps at this time of year.  More info on Rampfest 2015 to follow.

A ramp flower.  Just kidding!  I thought if I could get you to think this was a ramp, you might dig up all the dandelions for me...

A ramp flower. Just kidding! I thought if I could get you to think this was a ramp, you might dig up all the dandelions for me.  My bad.

Okay, this really is a ramp (the one of the right that looks like a tulip leaf).

Okay, this really is a ramp (the one of the right that looks like a tulip leaf).

News Item #3:

At the beginning of July, Fahbio and I will be taking our kids and two/three extra teens on a 42 kilometre/26 mile hike in a provincial park in Quebec.  For five days we will hike from hut to hut, carrying all our food and gear with us.  Our youngest hiker will be five years old.  Most people do this walk in three days but we’ve decided to slow it down to accommodate little legs.  Our distances will be roughly 3 km (day 1), 16 km (day 2), 0 km (day 3), 13 km (day 4) and 10 km (day 5).  We’ll be walking on a wilderness trail along the Saguenay Fjord, dodging moose and listening to the beluga whales in the waters far below us.  Of course we’ll be blogging about that adventure so please come back y’all.

Haven't done the hike yet, ergo no pictures of the hike.  Here I am hiking with Lastborn in Macedonia/FYROM last summer.

Haven’t done the hike yet, ergo no pictures of it. Here I am hiking with Lastborn in Macedonia/FYROM last summer.

News Item #4:

In mid-August, we’ll be heading to the East Coast to visit Grand Manan Island.  Grand Manan is a Canadian island that is part of New Brunswick, but is located off the coast of Maine.  Our plans are sketchy at this point but we’ll be driving down and couchsurfing along the way.  We’re excited to visit this outpost that has stolen the hearts of several of our friends.  What’s the lure of Grand Manan? Maybe merpeople. As soon as we find out, we’ll let you know.  And that’s the reason you need to meet us back here in August.

View of beach from Harlech

We haven’t been to Grand Manan yet either so here is a view of the beach from Harlech, Wales.  Give me a few months and I’ll be able to tell you if the beaches of Grand Manan look anything like this.