Looking for Orcas in the San Juans

 

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This weekend we were dropping the Minx off for an eleven day camp at magical Canoe Island in the San Juan Islands, a couple of hours north west of Seattle (overnight camp!!!) and decided to make a weekend of it. On a bit of whim, we booked ourselves on a whalewatching trip to see the islands’ pods of resident orcas in the San Juans. Long time readers of this blog may remember that we’ve been twice before and not spotted even the fin of a single whale -  the mythical orcas were obviously a figment of the Washington Tourist Board’s imagination.

We set off on a glorious afternoon through the beds of bull kelp.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The Husband and the Minx were excited.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

We spotted bald eagles

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

and very charming seals

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

and other whalewatching boats (always a good sign).

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And then, behold! A fin!

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In fact several fins.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Coming closer

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

and closer

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

until, peekaboo I see you!

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Wildlife photography is HARD, people! The boat is always gently rocking, the boats are not permitted to get too close, and those pesky whales would pop up and disappear when you were least expecting it. These pics are the best out of dozens and dozens I took, of several different orcas. Male orcas have straight side fins and females have curved ones, and that’s mostly all you get to to see.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

We also had the company of a whitesided dolphin who kept racing our boat before moving over to the side to breathe. Our captain was really excited by this as apparently they’re rare in the San Juans and it was the first he had seen all year.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The movement blur on the below was unintentional but I like it…

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

After a while the dolphin spurned us, to go and play with one of the orcas! I would have loved to have had an underwater camera at this point.

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

 

After that we headed back to Eastsound, and into the most glorious sunset. The stunning beauty of the day and of those playful giants of the ocean will live for a long time in my mind. Sometimes magical is not a strong enough word. How lucky we were.

 

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Orcas in the San Juans - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Share

Urban Campfire in Seattle

The LUCKY 7

I just wanted to mention a fabulous event happening in Seattle next week, featuring two amazing women I’ve come to know and love in the past year.

parentingquote

The two quotes above are from Susan Hyatt whom I have been honoured to have as my life coach over this past year. We’re not quite finished yet but already the changes in my life have been profound and meaningful. I sort of started life coaching on a whim, but I truly would recommend it to anybody who wants to get the best out of life. As you know I’m not a very woo-woo sort of person, but it really has been immensely valuable. Who knew?  (And Susan herself is a darling and a walking talking inspiration to all busy enterpreneurial women out there).

Urban Campfire in Seattle - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Susan is just one of many incredible women speaking at this year’s Urban Campfire in Seattle organised by the phenomenal Melody Biringer.  I met Melody properly last year at Camp Mighty, though she’s been big news on the Seattle and nationwide networking scenes for a long time as the founder of CRAVE. Here’s an interview with Melody, conducted last year before the first Urban Campfire, and here’s the list of speakers she’s gathered together for this year’s event.

Fortunately, given what she does, Melody is very fond of s’mores.

Urban Campfire in Seattle - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I’d love to catch up at Urban Campfire if you’re going. Let me know in the comments or buy your tickets here.

Share

Whitney English Day Designer

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Dashing in quickly just to tell you all how an item of stationery is in the process of changing my life. Yes, I am a very sad person. But a new edition goes on sale tomorrow and I think you ought to buy it.

The Whitney English Day Designer already has a bit of a cult following among creative entrepreneurs and rightly so. The first ever planner designed specifically for us, the thought and care which has gone into every page is evident and heartwarming.

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Yes, that says “The Strategic Planner & Daily Agenda for living a WELL-DESIGNED LIFE”. See you’re inspired already. And yes, it is beautifully designed.

I know I’m already very late to this party, but I came across the planner on Instagram a couple of months back and was lucky enough to snag one of the very last available August 2014 – August 2015 planners. Tomorrow on August 15th planners for the calendar year January 2015- 2016 go on sale and I’d hate to see you miss out. Get in fast, these babies sell like hot cakes. Or like hot planners.

Anyway, here’s why I’m in love with this wonderful piece of technology.

The planner comes in a sturdy ring binder with a useful inside pocket, gold protected corners and comes packaged with a pink velveteen ribbon that also serves as a bookmark. My office manager Joan Holloway certainly approves.

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The first page gives you space to picture your vision and dreams and think about your passions, powers, principles and purpose. The planner comes with a code for a free downloadable e-book to help you decide what to put here, which I found really helpful.

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Then you use the work you’ve done in defining your ‘core’ to inform yearly goal setting, which then gets broken up into 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month goals for different areas of your life. If I get anywhere close to reaching these goals this year I will probably die of excitement. And yes, I have been colour-coding things using the official recommended pens (I do feel like I’ve joined some sort of cult). 

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Then you can set goals and big to dos for each month as well as viewing your month at glance. Aside from the colour-coded pens, I have also become the sort of person who washi tapes their planner. There really is no hope.

There’s a ‘year at a glance’ page too, in case you’re running out of places to put washi tape.

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Once you have your month beautifully planned there’s a whole page for each day, including spaces to put your to dos for that day and daily schedule. There’s a ‘Download’ section for notes (I use it to write a brief summary of my day), a place for a daily gratitude which is rather lovely, and somewhere to write what’s for dinner, which is obviously critical. There’s space to write your top 3 to dos for the day and each day also has an inspirational quote.

Whitney English Day Designer - photography by www.paolathomas.com

In short, I shall henceforth be leading the mostly perfectly designed, organised and inspired life. Which really makes this planner very good value for money.

Get your January planner in the Whitney English Etsy shop this very morning.

Share

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

This year we decided to start our family vacation in Rome, and I went back for the first time since working there for six months way back when.

I had lived in an apartment in Campo de’ Fiori in the heart of the medieval Centro Storico, which I adored, and this time we decided to rent a really cute Air BnB apartment in the same neighbourhood. One of the things I love most about Campo de’ Fiori is the magnificent market which fills the piazza every morning and is a paradise for food and street photography. It was great just to hang out in the mornings watching the stallholders and restaurant owners set up, before the serious sightseeing of the day began.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Come for a little walk with me through the twisty streets of Rome and the market of Campo de’ Fiori.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Our apartment was in this little cobbled street between Campo de’ Fiori and Piazza Farnese.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Fountain in Piazza Farnese

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

We breakfasted every morning in the Caffe Farnese, five minutes from our apartment. Here is the Minx writing her vacation journal (she became markedly less diligent the further we got into our holiday).

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

The market was a delight.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Campo de’ Fiori means ‘field of flowers’ and that still rings true today.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Rome was gripped by World Cup fever when we arrived, which lasted only until Italy’s ignominious defeat at the hands, or more accurately teeth, of Uruguay, which we watched in one of the open air restaurants in the piazza.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Even my old friend, the statue of Giordano Bruno, which gazes out over the piazza at the site where he was burned to death, was subdued that evening.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Unfortunately I made a terrible parenting mistake by buying Mission Rome for the Minx. It’s a sightseeing scavenger hunt book which I thought would keep the Minx vaguely amused if we took in a few sights.

Instead I refer to the review of the book I wrote on Amazon. My love/hate relationship with this book runs very deep.

Do not on any account by this book! *****

If you want to have a pleasant, relaxing, wine-fuelled Roman interlude that is… I bought this for my nine-year old daughter and then spent 3 days being marched all over Rome while she figured out every possible permutation of itinerary and points scores (also tremendously good for her math). Half of me was thrilled she was so inspired and half of me wanted to take the book to the very heart of the Colosseum (4 points), stab it, burn it and gouge its eyes out .

This book is like sightseeing crack, perfectly pitched at 3rd to 6th graders, and has pulled together some really interesting facts and cool things to locate, which kept the interest not just of my grade schooler but also of her exhausted parents. Thank goodness we only had three days to spend in Rome and very good walking shoes. Seriously you buy this book at your peril. Caveat emptor.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

Here’s the Minx scribbling in the accursed book and here’s the Husband just after telling some heinous lie to the Bocca della Verita.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

I think we stopped to talk to pretty much every cat in Rome.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

And, as has been the case since time immemorial, the cobbled streets of the Eternal City were filled with gladiators and nuns.

Colours, Cabbages and Cobblestones in Rome - photography by www.paolathomas.com

It was lovely to be back.

Share

Weekend Link Love

InstagramAug3

Oh it’s been SO long since I did one of these.

The weather continues to be absolutely glorious in Seattle but we haven’t quite been making the most of it as both the Husband and the Minx have been down with gastric flu, while I’m just sitting here waiting to get it. Before that though it was a week of sunshine-y walks, beautiful sunsets, watermelon cocktails, paddleboarding (I’ve been taking lessons! I love it!), and delicious vegetables.

I’ve also been enjoying this lovely wire ‘bonjour’ from Anthropologie which I’ve hung in my bedroom on the wall next to my bed. It’s a bit pricey for a little thing, but it delights me every time I get up, so for me it’s worth it.  And I’ve been bowled over by my fabulous new Whitney English Day Designer planner August 2014 edition, which I’m sort of in love with. I feel like my life is going to be utterly and perfectly organised going forward, which is not too much to ask of a planner is it? (New January planners come out on August 15th and I’ll be writing a fuller review of mine before then so you can be perfectly organised too).

Here are some things I’ve noticed in my travels around the web this week.

Lakshmi at PureVege does the sort of food photography that makes my heart twist in envy and awe. Utter perfection.

As you know I’ve been doing a lot of travelling recently. Some of these fabulous travel tips could have come in very useful over the past few months.

My friend Melanie Biehle found these simple, graphic posters of cakes by UK branding agency Purpose. They make me want to make a Battenberg cake immediately (it was one of my favourite cakes as a child, and I miss them here in the US).

British author Zadie Smith gives us 10 truthful rules of writing.

Obviously I truly and desperately need a personalised rolling pin (don’t we all?)

And I am so, so, so, so, so, so, SO tempted to download the Kim Kardashian game that everyone is talking about. Have any of you tried it? How quickly will it rot my brain?

On the blog over the last week or so, I posted some more pics of Tuscany and a tribute to the chef I met there and a recipe for Mixed Fruit Clafoutis. Will try to up the bloggery over the next week or so.

How are you all enjoying your summers?

Sunset - Photography by www.paolathomas.com

(The sun did this last night, just before sunset. I’ve never seen anything quite like it).

Share