Shelagh's Lens

Vancouver’s Not-So-Smelly Corpse Flower Is Nonetheless Impressive

This is Vancouver’s very own Corpse Flower, aka Titan Arum.

As you’ll hear in my video, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town this week.

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It’s not only the largest flower on this planet; when it first blooms…

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… it’s also the smelliest.

When the petals unfurl, the deep red segments of this self-heating plant draw pollinators such as carrion beetles and flesh flies that feed on dead animals – or, at least that’s what they do in the plant’s native Sumatra!

Fortunately, there were no signs of them today at the Bloedel Conservatory!

Nor was there any discernible smell this afternoon, on day two of its anticipated 48 or so hours of bloom time. The smell is apparently at its most pungent in the early and late hours of the day.

At six years, this plant is an early bloomer. This is the first time a corpse flower has bloomed in Canada, and it’s expected to be some years before this massive plant blossoms again.

Feeling the Heat?

This may help cool you down!

I dream of Skye

This Spring’s Scottish road trip was everything I could have hoped for, and more.

From Edinburgh to St. Andrews and then the Isle of Skye and back, I was spoiled – in terms of hospitality and scenery.

Here, just a couple of shots from Carbost, on the Isle of Skye.

Let’s Go Crabbing

Visiting Victoria, BC this Spring, we found that a walk along James Bay is a great way to start the morning.

We stayed at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, in a room overlooking the city’s inner harbour. The downtown views are impressive, but it’s also worth turning left when you step out the hotel’s front door and simply following the waterfront. That will take you to James Bay, and these incredible views of the Olympic Mountains, which are situated in the USA.

The local birds also find this a great spot for crabbing, as you’ll see here!

It’s Raining Umbrellas

It’s raining umbrellas on this gorgeous Spring afternoon in Vancouver, and locals and visitors alike are taking notice.

Stop by the Canada Line’s Yaletown-Roundhouse Canada Line Station to enjoy this public display.

Take a Minute to Re-Subscribe to Shelagh’s Lens


Heads up, dear readers: I’ll be deleting the vast majority of my subscription list shortly after publishing this post.

It’s not that I don’t want us to stay connected. Not at all.

Rather, it’s important that I honour European legislation designed to protect the privacy of EU residents.


How to continue receiving notifications of new posts

Immediately to the right of the photo you see in this post, there’s an icon labelled, “Click here to SUBSCRIBE or RE-SUBSCRIBE”.

Click on it, and you’ll be asked to enter your email address.

That will generate an automated email, which will ask you to click on a confirmation icon. It’s that simple.



It’s not only Europeans who need to pay attention to General Data Protection Regulation, also known as GDPR.  It affects all businesses, trainers and bloggers who have followers or clients living in Europe.

If you’re a reader I know who lives somewhere other than Europe, I’ll leave your subscription intact.

Since I collect so little personal information (only your email addresses) from subscribers, though, I’d be guessing at whether or not some of you live in Europe. So,  after publishing this post,  I’ll delete all other subscriptions … and that’s why I’m asking you to re-subscribe.


About your privacy

I encourage readers to take a minute to read my Privacy Statement, which you can also find as a drop-down pages under About.

Faces of Cuba: Girl at the Window

In Havana, I stayed at a casas particulare, a private home a couple of blocks off the city’s famous Malecon. While I’d not have wanted to miss sights such as Parque Central, El Capitolio, the gorgeous pastel-coloured buildings flanking Paseo de Marti or any of the other spots that are popular with visitors, staying in a private residence gave me the chance to see buildings and people I might otherwise have missed.

Take this little girl, for instance. I saw more than a few people watching the world go by from their windows or balconies, but this little girl’s gaze from behind rusting bars and an empty bottle is one I’ll long remember.

Keepsakes from Bruges – Jewelry by Blaton

Just a little tired after a late night flight from Budapest, I began my first full day in Bruges with a walk along the Groenerei Canal.

While itineraries are great, I enjoy letting some travel days unfold without any plan other than soaking up the sights. Walking along the canal, one building after another was a treat for the eyes.

Before long, I found myself at the Vismarkt (Fish Market), an open air market. It turns out that, a couple of hundred years ago, fishmongers’ wares were considered too smelly for the famous Bruges Markt – and so they were forced to move a short walk away, to a covered arcade constructed in 1821 for their benefit.

You can still buy fish at the Vismarkt, but there are also other vendors there these days. One vendor’s display, with some lovely pieces of jewelry, caught my eye right away.

Lucas Blaton, pictured here, is a self-taught jeweler whose innovative designs also make use of recycled materials.

Ironically, I found myself standing next to another Canadian at Blaton’s stand. We both admired, and bought, a few pieces I’ve been delighted to wear back home. It was nice dealing with this quiet spoken artisan, and you can find more about his work by clicking here.

London Calling: Beautiful Belgravia

I’ll be visiting London again this Spring, which has me reflecting on last Fall’s stay – and remembering the symmetry of these particular properties on Upper Belgrave Street in Belgravia.

Belgravia is named for the Duke of Westminster – or rather, for one of his subsidiary titles -Viscount Belgrave -since the 1800s. This is one neighbourhood that got an early start on gentrification.

Before that point in time, though, its moniker was Five Fields. When highwaymen and other criminal sorts frequented this area, it was a relatively swampy spot between the Thames and Hyde Park.

In fact, in a pattern that we continue to see played out in cities around the world, it was only when a little residence not too far away was converted to a palace that the Duke’s Grosvenor Group invested in developing this area.

That other residence? I had the good fortune to visit its staterooms with my friend Victoria while there in September. You just may recognise it in the photos below.

Not yet? Here’s a better look from the rear garden, where you’ll see me (and more than a few others) on the back steps.

Another hint? Here you go! It’s unlikely you would recognise this unless you’ve been there, but many of us are familiar with this view from the front of the property.

Only in Vancouver: Characters from Our Polar Bear Swim

You saw in my last post that we continued our New Year’s tradition with a running dip into the cool winter waters of Vancouver’s English Bay.

Here, I thought I’d bring you some footage and photos of the wild and woolly antics. The interesting thing is that, on this particular occasion in Vancouver, strangers don’t behave like strangers with one another. I know none of the people in these photos, but they happily mugged for the camera – like this fellow:

This creative bagpiper drew more than a bit of a crowd as we waited for the countdown to race down to the waters.

Fortunately, someone who goes by the YouTube handle of DeerLakor did a great job of catching the action from water’s edge and shared the clip below.  You’ll see the same bagpiper (really; would there ever be more than one?) strolling in and out of the water, and a lot of chilly people having fun!

Here are some more of the people who rang the new year in with a splash!

… and some more. Post-swim, there were the makings of a really good dance party on the beach. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather bump into the man with the chicken hat than any clown, any day.

This Viking was more friendly than ferocious, and there were also swimmers in cute costumes. While I’m pretty happy with my modest collection of six badges, that’s nothing compared to some of the swimmers. Check out the bathrobe of the swimmer below!

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