Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Canada Day #14

Today we went horse riding in the garden. The horse was called Freckles.

This is Sam riding Freckles...

a...and this is me looking every bit the Cowboy!

Friday, 25 December 2009

Canada Day #12

today is Christmas day. After waking early to help Sam get the breakfast ready (a dish termed 'wife saver' due to the fact it can be prepared in advance). We then settled down to open our personalised stockings. Mine can be seen below:

Tucker took it all in his stride:

He even joined in the festivities:

And here are some of my presents:

And here are some more:

Here is the full ensemble:

And here is the evil cat in a box:

This is what happens when you tease a cat with ribbon:

Here is by far the most entertaining gift of the day (My blackjack prize!):

Here it is once I assembled it:

And now in motion:

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Canada Day #11

Today is Christmas eve. We spent the morning in Okotoks collecting groceries for tomorrow and ingredients for gingerbread men today.

Step 1: Attack counter with rolling pin

Step 2: Continue attacking with a rolling pin

Step 3: Arrange into whimsical shapes. Bake.

Step 4: Look smug whilst icing the shapes

Step 5: Enjoy

Actual recipe: http://homecooking.about.com/od/cookierecipes/r/blcookie15.htm

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Canada Day #10

Today we went to a friend's for breakfast. Not just any breakfast though; this was a Canadian feast including crispy bacon, Canadian style pancakes and maple syrup. Before lunch we travelled from the South of Calgary to the North for the Olympic Oval Christmas skating. For $2 we got to skate around the Olympic ice rink and watch Santa Clause drive the Zamboni (the machine that cleans the ice). There were carollers and free cookies too.

We hired ice skates and managed just over one hour of injury-free skating. There are photos but not on my camera, so I can't post them just yet!.

In the evening we went to a Chinese restaurant. After taking our orders they asked "would you like full size or half size - you can take away what you don't eat". Needless to say we opted for the full size option and still have it in the fridge!

Canada Day #9

Today we went to the cinema and watched 'The Men Who Stare at Goats'. We went to see it at the 'cheap theatre' which shows old films for $3, that's £1.88. No photos from today!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Canada Day #8

Today we played 5 - Pin Bowling at the Chinook `Moll'. This is identical to 10 - Pin bowling with the following exceptions:

  1. There are only 5 pins
  2. The balls are much smaller
  3. You get three bowls per turn
The result is that it is a lot harder to get a clean strike, but it is still as much fun. Also I won :)

Canada Day #7

So I went to my first ever ice hockey game (don't call it a match, people look at you strangely). This was a fairly gentle introduction to the game since it was an over 35s league. The rules were fairly simple to pick up and I found it surprisingly entertaining to watch compared to football, rugby, cricket ... any sport. The `rink' was surprisingly small when you consider many thousands of people cram into stadiums to watch these games.

For me the most surprising thing about ice hockey is that there is nowhere that is out of bounds. Players can play the puck behind the goal if they like. This means there are very few interruptions to the game, making it far more exciting to watch.

The team we were supporting was the Mustangs, and they were playing the Bonavista Breakers. The Mustangs lost convincingly.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Canada Day #6

This is Banff Springs Hotel, the most expensive and beautiful hotel in the town. Although new by British standards, compared to the rest of the town and little of Canada I have seen, this hotel looks ancient.
Sam and I stopped to have our photo taken at the back of the hotel. It was lightly snowing whilst the photo was taken.

This picture shows both the bronze statue of the mounted policeman or `mountie' as they are affectionately known, the rear of the Banff Springs Hotel and the Rockies in the background.

The rear of the hotel overlooks a magnificent golf course, and of course the river. A small section of which was cleared to form this natural skating rink. The small vehicle on the ice is clearing the fallen snow off of the ice and polishing it ready for the skaters waiting in the foreground. A small log fire was started over which hot-dogs were being prepared.

This is the Bow Falls. During the spring and summer this is a thunderous waterfall carving its way through the mountains. Today it was frozen almost completely. An equally impressive sight. The ice was at least 8'' deep at the edges, with a narrow strip of free flowing water in the centre, about 3-4' wide.

These are just some of the trees that line the fairway of the golf course. Deer tracks were clearly visible in the snow between the trees.

Protrusions out of the surface of the frozen river were noticeable. In the photo below, near the centre of the river, it is interesting how the entire sheet of ice appears to have been `lifted'.

A similar protrusion is visible here, where water has frozen whilst flowing over rocks in the riverbed.

The ice was thick enough to walk right out into the middle of the river.

Looking back along the river the Banff Springs Hotel was just as imposing.

Approximately 15 minutes after leaving Banff you arrive in Canmore, which is another ski resort, although not quite as spectacular as Banff!

These ducks weren't deterred by the ice.

The three peaks in the photo below form the ``Three sisters''

We weren't quite sure what the kid in this photo was doing. Unfortunately we did not have time to stay and see just how he falls into the river

The water could not have been any clearer.

Canada Day #5

Today was a lazy day. An initial failed attempt to walk to Banff (hot) springs was foiled by the low morning temperatures which forced us to divert to the warm shopping centre or `moll' as the locals call it. The helpful local in the picture below told me some more about the town of Banff:

"Banff was founded in 1876 by a Canadian brown fighting bear called Bam Bam. He had grown tired of defecating in the woods and decided that he not only needed warm bathroom facilities but a full shopping experience including tourist T-shirts, Starbucks and Steak houses. News spread quickly of the town and over the years the town's name was shortened to Banff"

It later transpired that the integrity of the aforementioned local was brought into doubt.

All of the street names appeared to be named after local fauna.

At the end of the day we retreated to `Dairy Queen' - this is the McDonalds of the milkshake/ice-cream world. The bucket in the photo below was only a `regular' size.

Canada Day #4

We travelled to Banff (pronounced: Bamph) by coach on Friday morning. Banff is a famous ski resort in the Rockies and is almost completely surrounded by beautiful mountains. The view below is from one end of Banff looking along the high street. It was taken on the bridge across the river, most of which was frozen.

This is another photograph of the main Banff shopping street, this time taken from the other end.
The bin in the foreground below is bear-proof. The person walking next to it is not.
This is a church or at least it looks like a church. Needless to say, we didn't cross the road for it - pretty nonetheless.
This is another mountain picture

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Canada Day #3

The bear before I restrained itThe bear after I restrained it
An expensive horse
A place for horses
Bleachers (seats) in the snow