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Big Day Downtown 2013

Added on by Chris Campbell.

Walking in to The Middle Spoon I looked around and said a cryptic password to a server there and she led me down the stairs and past tables to an ordinary looking door. Going through a series of winding hallways we arrived behind an unmarked door and in the secret bar called Noble underneath the streets of downtown Halifax. This was the place for the launch of Big Day Downtown by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission where a group of bloggers were gather to meet each other and find out what the theme was for this year. Each blogger drew three cards from a bowl and with $150 we had to go and explore and write about our experiences.

Going to downtown Halifax is always a choice for me. Living in Wolfville and working in Dartmouth means that most days I am close to the downtown, but not actually there. So the step of visiting downtown pretty much always has a purpose. One of the things that is most fun is being able to be part of Big Day Downtown which I've been lucky to do for the last few years. A group of bloggers are given a prepaid credit card and the task is to spend the money at downtown businesses. Every year there is a theme and this year with the three theme cards that we chose, we had to seek out experiences that fit within those themes.

The cards that I drew were Fun, Happy, and Authentic which seemed perfect to me. Should I try to go to all-new places, or maybe go to old favourites. Would it be better to spread out the money to many shops with small purchases, or maybe splurge a bit at a few restaurants. So with a rough idea of where I wanted to go and a few hours to spend on a Thursday afternoon I ventured in to the city to get started.

Meaty Meatless Burger

Meaty Meatless Burger

There are lots of great restaurants in downtown Halifax and it is always good to try something new, so the first stop on my Big Day was 2 Doors Down, which would be a fun way to start things off. It's a great location on the corner of Barrington and Salter Street with a warm and inviting environment. With my youngest daughter joining me for lunch, we were seated by the window and started to look through the beautifully designed menu. Being a vegetarian means that finding things to eat can sometimes be a challenge, but at 2 Doors Down there were some really amazing choices for me to make. With an emphasis on local ingredients and a fun approach to the dishes, the menu combines comfortable and recognizable ingredients in different ways. I choose to have the veggie burger and it was delicious. It's called the Meaty Meatless Burger and it was a breaded veggie burger with a caramelized onion balsamic jam, grilled portabello mushrooms, and blue cheese whiz. It was served with some delicious french fries and some of their own home-made ketchup. My daughter had the "Kale, Caesar" Salad which she devoured and enjoyed. For desert the gingerbread beckoned and it was a tasty and not too sweet with everything balanced just right.

Inkwell Sign

Inkwell Sign

At this point I was joined by my friend Kendra (known on Twitter as @halifaxfilmgal) and while there weren't any films to see, I figured it would be good to have some help as I went around the downtown on a sunny summer afternoon. We went in to Inkwell to look at some of the lovingly printed letterpress cards, posters, and notebooks on their shelves. Lots of local stuff, stamps, and cards for all occasions are around the shop as well. After looking through lots of cards and notebooks I settled on a clever notebook with "My Analog Blog" on the cover. When I want to use my fountain pen to write a blog entry, this is the notebook for it.

Macarons at Le French Fix

Macarons at Le French Fix

Leaving Inkwell and going around the corner Kendra asked if I had been to Le French Fix, and I hadn't but had always wanted too and this would fit into the authentic category. One of the best times to visit a patisserie is in the morning so you can get your day started with some well-crafted pastry, but this being late afternoon meant that there wasn't as much in the store. Luckily there were colourful macarons in the case and I bought a couple of them (I had pistachio) and noticed the Pig Iron Coffee on the counter. Always on the lookout for good coffee, I tried a sample and bought a bag of the beans which were a good medium roast.

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Zane's Macchiato Special at Two if by Sea

Now with coffee on the brain and with gravity helping it was down towards the harbour and the Historic Properties where Two if by Sea are in downtown Halifax. One of my regular stops for a croissant and coffee, the late afternoon and good weather meant that there was no food left, but as always there is the best coffee in the city. My regular coffee at home now is usually extracted from Two if by Sea's Anchored Coffee beans, so I replenished my stock with a bag of La Azacualpa from Honduras.

Since there was time I ordered my favourite, which is Zane's Macchiato Special – espresso in one cup, a single macchiato in the other cup. The combination is always good and is a great little jolt of caffeine in the afternoon which is just what is needed to restore your energy. If it was warmer I would have had their cold brew coffee which is gently extracted over 18 hours. If you haven't had a chance to try it, you're missing out on some delicious iced coffee. This isn't the sugary simulation of other places, but a robust drink that lets you taste the subtleties of good beans.

Wired and ready for the final push we took a walk along the Halifax Waterfront filled with smiling tourists. Kendra hadn't been to the new location of Strange Adventures, so we went up to the comic shop on Prince Street to look around. It's compact and bright with big windows looking out on Lower Water Street with shelves of all sorts of amazing stuff to read. Not having much time, I didn't get anything as it would have been way too easy to spend the remaining money there and there were still a couple of other stops to make before the day was done.

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

Saigon 2 Laptop Bag from MEC

One of the most fun places for me downtown is MEC and exploring the outdoors on my bike makes me very happy, so a stop into the store was next on the agenda. The gear and clothing all through the store is organized by activity. I went to the bikes and looked at the accessories and attachments trying to think of what would be good to get. Maybe some clothes, or biking shorts? A light?

I have a lot of different bags. While it's good to have the right one for taking stuff with you, it can also be a bit of a problem if you have too many bags. So I'll admit right up front that I have a bit of a problem with searching for a better bag but here right in front of me (in bright red) was a bag that on sale. It looked as though it would be great to have for my laptop. My regular laptop bag is good, but a bit small. This was a chance to have something a bit better and it was a messenger bag, so that would work for biking too. After pacing around and looking at it and being told by Kendra that I should publicly admit that I have a problem, I decided to take the plunge and get it.

The Saigon 2 Laptop Bag is from Vancouver's Onsight Equipment and it's big and roomy enough for my 15-inch MacBook Pro along with all sorts of accessories and lunch. The straps are comfortable and it can be more secure with a reflective belt to keep it from moving around and to make you more visible at night. There are also a couple of reflective strip spinners that attach to the bag for even more safety. While I don't think that I'll have the bag on a lot while I'm riding my bike, it's good to have that option and even though I didn't really need it, having a good bag makes me very happy.

Chili oil from Morris East

Chili oil from Morris East

The final stop for my Big Day was something that I'd been thinking about for a while. Morris East is one of my all-time favourite restaurants. For authentic food, they are the best and with their wood-fired oven powered by Annapolis Valley wood, the pizza is delicious. Not having enough money for a meal, but still having a bit I figured that it would be great to get a bottle of their chill oil along with some of their whole wheat dough and sauce to make pizza at home. It's a great way to have fresh pizza when you want to make it at home and don't want to spend the time making the dough and sauce.

With a bit of mozzarella and parmesan cheese I assembled the ingredients at home and then cooked a nice pizza for supper as I reflected on my Big Day Downtown. The day was authentic, fun, and made me very happy. A perfect way to spend a day in downtown Halifax doing things that I love.

Big Day Downtown 2012

Added on by Chris Campbell.

One of the wonderful things about living close to Halifax is that the city doesn't become too familiar. At various times of the year I'll spend more time in the city, but most of the time my visits are focussed and relatively quick. Working in Dartmouth, but living in Wolfville means that I spend a lot of time on the road. By the time the end of the day rolls around I usually won't hang around in the city. But at certain times of the year or for certain people or events, I spend more time getting to know the place where I work and the place that I see across the harbour.

Luckily I was chosen to be part of Big Day Downtown again by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission and it's a great opportunity to think about downtown Halifax and what I can do there. Working within constraints is a good thing and the basic rules are that you're given $100 you can spend however you want in downtown businesses. Being the third time poses some challenges as you don't want to repeat yourself and want to do things that are interesting. The twist this time was randomly pairing the bloggers up and getting us to share our adventures.

So often with social media and the various ways that we share words and images online we construct imaginary people in our minds. It's similar to how we visualize radio or podcast hosts or musicians whose voices we hear. Real people are complex and wonderful and any chance to meet them in person is good. To be able to socialize and laugh in person can be even better. The online scene in Halifax is active and strong with a diverse range of voices and people who share what they love in interesting ways. Sometimes we forget how special this is and projects like this that remind us of the community and the people who are part of it.

The kickoff event was at Morris East, which is one of my favourite restaurants and one of the places where I went for my first Big Day Downtown. The assembled bloggers mingled and socialized. It was nice to see familiar faces and catch up with people in a socially unmediated way. Being able to connect and share with people electronically is good, but it's nice to be a room with people (along with food and drinks). When the names were drawn from the bowl I wondered who I'd be teamed up with. Would it be someone I knew? Would it be someone who shared interests with me, or would it be a surprise?

My partner for the Big Day was prolific blogger Jill Mader, who I knew from Couchtime With Jill. It seemed as if the choice was almost too perfect with Jill's focus on tv and my focus on films. The rough outline for the day was worked out at the opening event with the discussion swirling around favourite tv shows and celebrities. A couple of weeks later we met up again to start our Big Day.

Jill figured out some of the places where celebrities had been in downtown Halifax, so that provided choices for where to go. I'm sure that we just scratched the surface, but I was happy with the list since it gave me the chance to combine old and new places. She wrote about her Halifamous tour over on her blog.

Two if By Sea

Two if By Sea

Our day was a Thursday after work, so before I met up with Jill I made a quick stop at Two if By Sea cafe to get a coffee. TiBS is one of my favourite places to get coffee and their new location in the Historic Properties is great. A simple counter that wraps around a corner holds everything that you could want if you love coffee and pastries. There are coffee beans to take home, along with cookies, croissants and mini croissants. Their slogan is "Drink drip, eat butter" which really sums it up. The menu is written on chalkboards on the walls and hanging from the ceiling and the coffee is fresh and strong. Knowing that I'd have a meal shortly the choice that I made was to have a cappuccino which, as usual, was just right. Sipping the coffee I walked through the Historic Properties and outside on my way to the first stop and meeting up with Jill.

Freak Lunchbox

Freak Lunchbox

This was a repeat visit (both in general and in the Big Day Downtown context) to Freak Lunchbox. The reason for going here again was that it apparently was visited by Rob Lowe (who crosses over both into film and television). Other celebrity visitors have been Tom Selleck, Julianne Moore, Lucy Liu, Gabriel Byrne, and Gene Wilder. Freak Lunchbox is a relatively small candy store packed with all sorts of tasty treats and novelties. The back of the store is lined with bins filled with the most amazing range of candies. You pick a bag or box and start to fill it up. Near the front of the store are boxes of candies, chocolates and a whole wall of novelty items. I looked and looked and looked, but decided to take the plunge and get a takeout box and start to fill it up with candy. The other thing that intrigued me was a Pac Man arcade console holding candy (not to scale, it's a lot smaller than an actual Pac Man machine). With a bunch of candy in our hands, Jill and I walked down the street to our next stop.

Pac Man Candy

The Bicycle Thief

There are a few reasons that I wanted to go to The Bicycle Thief and the primary one was that I had heard great things about it, but hadn't ever managed to go. The other reasons are that Pierce Brosnan ate there and it's a restaurant that is named after the great Italian Neorealist film. So this was the core of my big day.

Old Fashioned

We started off by looking through the large menu and ordered some drinks. Having a favourite television show in mind, I ordered an Old Fashioned (the drink of Mad Men's Don Draper). It looked great and tasted great as well. Jill got a newer raspberry fizz which she enjoyed. Well-made cocktails are a perfect way to start off a dinner at the end of a long day.

Red ravioli

Would it be possible for me to find good vegetarian options? The menu has a strong selection of meat-based dishes, but there are some quite great-looking options for vegetarians aside from the salads. I'm not vegan, so that opens up a few more choices for me. The menu is divided into 1st Gear, 2nd Gear, and High Gear. It was in 2nd Gear where I made my decision. The Red Ravioli filled with ricotta, Mascarpone, spinach, fresh herbs, light cream sauce looked amazing and was so good. The right thing to have while you talk about films and tv with someone who also enjoys those things too.

Desert

Having something a bit smaller was good as it gave me the chance to try something from the desert menu, which was also extensive. It all looked really good and I picked from the top of the list with the Triple layered Butterscotch Caramel cake, with crushed toasted Pecans on top. The balance of sweet and salty was just right and I savoured it. With the sun having set and the day being long, we wrapped up our day and on my drive home I thought of how I could spend the rest of money in the coming days.

Obladee Menu

Obladee Wine Bar

It didn't take too long to figure out a place to go as the next day I was downtown again, this time as guest of Kendra (@halifaxfilmgal on Twitter) who was participating in the HPX Digital conference. She invited me to the closing party of HPX Digital which was happening at Pacifico Dancebar. I met up with Kendra earlier and we went to Obladee Wine Bar which just happened to be celebrating their 2nd anniversary. Walking in I saw some familiar Halifax social media types including fellow Big Day Downtown participant Cheryl of Wry and Ginger fame.

After catching up a bit with Cheryl on what she had done with her Big Day, Kendra and I took advantage of the special on sparking wines and had a couple, along with some of the tiny birthday cake that was offered to us. We talked mainly about films (as usual) as the Epiphonics provided a jazz soundtrack to the evening. It was quite nice and I really need to get to Obladee more to enjoy the wine, the food and the comfortable and classy atmosphere there. It's a real treasure to have a place like that downtown.

Saint Lou's Gentlemen's Barber Shop

The final stop in my multi-day Big Day Downtown was a place that I'd wanted to go to for a while. I walked by it after getting my coffee at Two if By Sea at the beginning of this story (but you probably didn't notice since you only really are seeing the things that I describe here with my words). My hair and beard were getting a bit long, so when I first heard about the new Big Day Downtown the very first place that I thought of was Saint Lou's Gentlemen's Barber Shop. Nestled in to a small space in the Historic Properties with a glowing barber pole beside the door, Saint Lou's has one barber chair, one barber, and three chairs to wait in. There is music playing, a guitar on the wall and a friendly barber named Rob, who greeted me as I entered the shop and he cut the hair of a man sitting in the chair. There are no appointments, you just show up. As I sat down he asked if I'd like a beer or a coffee while I waited. This is a choice that I hadn't had when getting a haircut before. I chose the coffee and was able to have another delicious cup of coffee from Two if By Sea. Even before the haircut started I knew that I made the right choice coming here.

In the chair the haircut began and Rob skillfully trimmed up my hair and beard. We chatted a bit and I found out that his brother was a student of mine and that he got his barber training initially at NSCC at the very campus where I started with the college on Bell Road. He worked in Halifax and Australia and then returned back to Nova Scotia and opened the shop with a casual vibe and high-quality haircuts at reasonable prices. It's great to have places like Saint Lou's and people like Rob downtown. It's the heart of a city and the simplest business model there is - provide a service that people need, in a personal way that makes you happy. That's how you end a Big Day Downtown - looking a bit better than you began as you drive home thinking about things that you want to do the next time that you come back.

Big Day Downtown 2011

Added on by Chris Campbell.

Last year I was lucky to be one of the bloggers chosen by the Downtown Halifax for Big Day Downtown where people were given $100 to spend and write about the experience. My first Big Day Downtown was a lot of fun and this year the twist is that you need to try something new. They kicked things off with a packed reception at the newly opened dessert bar The Middle Spoon on Barrington with lots of local bloggers enjoying the sweets and fancy drinks. Halifax and the surrounding region has quite an interesting blogosphere.
Not wanting to wait very long with a $100 card burning a hole in my pocket, I asked my son John if he would like to come to downtown Halifax to try some new things. So on the afternoon of Friday, August 19 we got in the car and left Wolfville for Downtown Halifax.



Just Us! Coffee



Snacks at Just Us!
Our first stop was at the Just Us! Cafe on Barrington to have a bit of a snack and plan the day. The something new part was having John with me since it wasn’t my first time at the cafe. But I did try a cinnamon bun there for the first time (it was delicious) and had a cup of strong, dark coffee to go. John had a Propeller Ginger Beer along with a ginger cookie. All this cost just $10.58 including the tip, which left $89.42 to spend.
Wandering down Barrington scouting out other places to go in the afternoon sun it made me realize that there are a lot of business in the downtown area. While Freak Lunchbox is quite tempting and there would definitely be candy that was new to both of us, it’s a relatively familiar place, so we decided to pass by. We sat down outside in the sun and John suggested going to the Discovery Centre to check out the exhibits there, but since we came in to the city late in the afternoon there wouldn’t really be enough time to do it justice. One thing that John did want to get were some new headphones which lead us to Scotia Square.



The Source



Looking in the guide to downtown shops we saw that there was a Source on Duke Street, but it didn’t seem familiar. Wandering over it became obvious that it was in Scotia Square, where I’ve enjoyed a few suprisingly affordable meals in the excellent food court (the highlight is Ray’s Lebanese Cuisine). So in we went to The Source and looked at headphones which just happened to be on sale. After some thought and comparisons John decided that he wanted some new earbud-style headphones. He chose ones that were hot pink so they’d stand out. With the tax the heaphones were $11.95. Now the remaining funds were $77.47 as we went back out into the sunny afternoon and walked back up Barrington in search of stuff for me.



The North Face



The North Face
One of the shops that opened recently downtown is The North Face, which sells clothing and outdoor equipment. I’ve liked their clothes and bags and was keen on seeing the store. It was compact with friendly and helpful employees. There were some great clothes and neat bags (but I probably have too many bags for different things, so that wasn’t really an option) as well as a comprehensive range of colourful sleeping bags as well as tents. Maybe some footware? I’m ok for outdoor shoes and sandals, but new socks would be perfect. Looking through the different styles some solid hiking socks stood out which cost $20.50 after tax (leaving $56.97). Then it was time to go to another outdoor store on the same block in Mountain Equipment Co-op.



Mountain Equipment Co-op



MEC Bike Sign
Last time for Big Day Downtown one of the stops was Mountain Equipment Co-op, so there needed to be some justification for returning. The big change in the store is a renovation and the expansion of the bike section which includes selling bicycles in addition to the parts, accessories and clothing. The staff are serious outdoor adventurers and have solid, practical advice that helps you make the right choice for any activity. While I very much want to get a new bike from MEC, that would go over budget, but there are many affordable things related to biking in the store. One thing that I’ve never used while biking are gloves. After a few recent long bike rides I noticed that my hands were sore, so perhaps gloves would solve this problem. There are a range of gloves available, so I tried a lot of them on and eventually settled on some fingerless gloves made of a light and comfortable material. The cost of the gloves came to $21.85 which brough my remaining funds to $35.12.



DeSerres



I lack drawing ability, so I don’t usually go in to DeSerres on Barrington to buy art supplies. But I remembered that they did have a range of Moleskine notebooks which I love. Maybe there would be a notebook that would be good for John? We went in to the clourful store and looked around at notebooks and found a small music notebook. Since John is writing music and practicing playing the piano, it seemed a logical choice to buy a Moleskine Pocket Music Notebook. It’s the standard small notebook Moleskine with 8 staves ready for music to be composed within. After paying $19.55 for the notebook we were left with $15.57 on the card.



Burrito Jax



Burrito Jax Sign
By now we both were hungry and one place that we haven’t tried, but heard nice things about was Burrito Jax. Would I be able to find good veggie options there? The answer was an emphatic “yes”! The restaurant is compact with music playing and limited seating, but burritos are designed to be mobile and with the lovely weather it was nice to walk around outside with a delicious meal in my hand. I had a veggie burrito stuffed with just about everything (when presented with options I just kept saying “yes”) and John had the pulled beef burrito. Our meal ended up costing just $14.59 which brought the remaining money down to just 98 cents, so it was very close to meeting the goal. Burrito Jax doesn’t take credit cards, so I couldn’t use the card to pay for it, which meant that there was some money still left on it for a future, bonus adventure.



AlFresco FilmFesto



AlFresco Screen
The final thing for this Big Day Downtown was always going to be seeing Groundhog Day as part of the Summer of Murray program of the AlFresco FilmFesto (organized by the Atlantic Film Festival). It’s a wonderful outdoor screening of films during the summer. This year they’re celebrating their 11th year with 5 films all featuring Bill Murray. We arrived early on the Waterfront beside the Seaport Farmers Market and set up our chairs as the space in front of the inflatable screen filled with people. I’d been to AlFresco before, but on this day I was sharing John’s first screening of one of his (and my) favourite films with Groundhog Day. For all of the AlFresco screenings the weather was amazing and it was no exception for this screening. It got a little cool, but with the right clothes and some fresh popcorn it made for a perfect end to the day. I picked up a t-shirt for John and me and paid the suggested donation of $5 for admission for a great night of entertainment with hundreds of other people outside.



Discovery Centre



John Plays the Slap Organ
The $15.57 remaining on the card needed to be spent, so a week later on Friday, August 26th John and I went to the city again to learn and have science-based adventures at the Discovery Centre. The admission for John and I was just perfect for using up the remaining money on the card, and we went in to explore the exhibits with the new theme of Too Small to See. We looked at carbon nanotubes, assembled a molecule by working together, and magnified all sorts of things to see what they looked like up very close. In addition to the exhibits that change, there are a range of permanent activities that are a lot of fun. We made giant bubbles, went in to the Ames Room to have some optical illusion fun and John played the Slap Organ. It was fun to go around and learn about science in a interactive way in the heart of downtown Halifax.



AlFresco FilmFesto 2 - Rushmore



Bill Murray Chair
Since we were already in the city, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see another film outside, so we set up our chairs again for the final AlFresco Summer of Murray screening and watched Rushmore. We were hoping that Bill Murray would show up to sit in his reserved chair, but it remained empty. Seeing Bill Murray would have definitely been something new. It was the first time that John had seen Rushmore and he really liked it. It’s one of my favourite films and seeing it on a big screen outside with a appreciative audience was quite amazing and a perfect end to the summer and my second Big Day Downtown.
John and I thank Downtown Halifax for the opportunity to explore and enjoy the downtown and to share it with you. We’ll definitely be back for more fun.
What adventures have you had downtown in Halifax?

Big Day Downtown

Added on by Chris Campbell.

Stuff from My Big Day Downtown


Living in Wolfville is wonderful, but every now and then it's nice to get into Halifax for some shopping and eating in a big and vibrant city. A few weeks ago I was given the opportunity to participate in a promotion for Downtown Halifax. The deal was that a number of bloggers would be given a $100 gift card and they would spend the money in downtown Halifax and share their experiences. On Wednesday, August 4, my Big Day Downtown happened and it was documented with my new iPhone 4 (with the pictures in my Big Day Downtown set on Flickr). While I could probably have stretched things out to a whole day, it turns out that one my special talents is being able to spend money rather quickly. In thinking about the day there were a few places that seemed to be good to check out along with a balance between food, drink and more tangible and permanent things. It took about four hours for my solo foray through the streets and shops on an afternoon with a little bit of rain that seemed timed just about perfectly with the times I was inside in shops.


 


Morris East


The first stop was at the restaurant Morris East for some lunch. With a wood-fired oven, there was a high probability that one of the options for the meal would be pizza. I chose the quite reasonable lunch 1/2 pizza which gives you half a pizza and organic greens with a sherry Dijon vinaigrette. The pizza was the simple, basic and delicious tomato, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil. It was quite amazing and my plate was clean after a few minutes, which gave me the chance to accept the suggestion of the wood-fired s'more along with a coffee. The s'more was quite a lovely and perfect way to end the lunch, leaving me happy and full and ready to explore more of the downtown.


Carbonstok


One of my favourite places to browse and find cool stuff downtown is Carbonstok on Barrington Street. Filled with quirky gadgets and things for the home and kitchen, there is a range of products for any budget or mood. Keeping the limited budget in mind, it was good to look at the small and inexpensive things. A wide range of lomographic cameras along with film and various little things for displaying images always catch my eye. I picked up a package of 3 rolls of ISO 400 colour negative film that will be used in one of my 35mm film cameras. To keep stuff on the refrigerator (or maybe on the cubicle in the office) a package of 8 small and strong magnets. They're great for holding a lot of things up and these new ones will supplement the magnets as you always need things to hold paper and postcards and notes and photos.


Trident Books and CaféWhen the challenge of shopping downtown was first presented, one place that went on the list first was Trident Booksellers and Cafe on Hollis Street. With the motto "The Senseless Pursuit of Excellence", it's a gem of a cafe snuggled alongside a great used bookstore. The atmosphere is cool and it's a relaxed and welcoming place to shop or spend time catching up with friends. There is wi-fi and comfortable chairs and tables with a laptop-free table at the front where I sat and wrote a manual tweet to respect the more technologically free vibe at the table. Needing some coffee beans for home, I went to the back where there are containers of freshly-roasted coffee beans. The roasting is done on site and you pick out the beans and weigh them yourself before bringing them to the counter. To perk me up while there I had a cappuccino which is one of the best ones you can get anywhere. Sitting down and sipping the cappuccino while I added up what I had spent and thinking about where to go next was very nice.


Mountain Equipment Co-opWhen I need to get things for outdoor activities my membership in Mountain Equipment Co-op always comes in handy. The store on Granville Street is a regular stop and it is a challenge to not buy too many things when I go in. With two floors of outdoor equipment, clothing, footware, bags, tents, kayaks, tools, and gadgets it's a different experience every time. But today I was focussed and knew that I wanted to get one of the $12 cotton t-shirts that are organic, good looking and comfortable. Knowing that I had about $30 left before going in to MEC, there was the possibility of getting something $18 or less. Close to the checkout I saw a very cool Gerber Curve Mini-tool that is small with a knife, bottle-opener, file, and set of screwdrivers. A tool like that is quite useful to always have along with your keys.


Freak LunchboxKnowing that the allocated budget was just about done, a detailed calculation showed that there was about $1.86 left to spend, so I went over to Barrington to get some penny candy at Freak Lunchbox. The store is small and packed with colour, candy, and chocolate. It's a quirky place where every possible treat desire can be fulfilled. The plastic bins along with wall have a wide range of snacks that you put into a plastic bag. I choose a small amount of candy and only needed to add a little bit more to get to the total that I wanted. With a bag of candy in hand and the realization that there was a lot more that could be explored, it looked like it was time to call it a day.


Taz


But even though the budgeted money was all gone I decided to spend a bit of my own and walked over to Taz Records on Market Street to browse through the aisles of vinyl there. This was a bit of bonus downtown shopping since I don't really get to spend a lot of time in Halifax especially in the downtown area. With a wide range of music you can spend a lot of time in Taz looking for things, but after walking around for a while I settled on The Black Keys album "Attack and Release" and Regina Spektor's "Begin to Hope" (which had a bonus disc with other songs on it).


With a bag full of stuff and a couple of records I felt happy and grateful to Downtown Halifax for giving me the opportunity to explore, shop and share my adventures.

Gardens

Added on by Chris Campbell.
I have to say that I love gardens, but for some reason I am horticulturally challenged. A few years ago we tried to grow some vegetables in our back yard, but everything died or was eaten by animals...but the animals would have starved as we only had 1 or 2 pathetic tomatoes. That's why a beautiful public garden is impressive to me. There is the peaceful and relaxing nature of the environment and then there is the fact that someone had to think about how it all fits together and grows and looks.

Yesterday I was walking home from lovely downtown Wolfville and stopped in to the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University. It's another one of those things where you live close to something and walk or drive by it and never really see much of it. Carolyn and I walked around inside the gardens on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and vowed to return when everything was in bloom.

Still in the garden mood, I heard that the Halifax Public Gardens were open today and I went for a walk. It's an amazing place to go, right in the heart of Halifax. It was the first public garden in Canada and was opened to the public in 1837. A beautiful and authentic Victorian garden it's a large and comfortable place surrounded by iron gates and a pond with ducks...just the place to spend some time on a sunny day. I have to get out more!