Canada in instalments: 3 Its People

As mentioned previously, size matters in Canada. People there have big visions and they live in huge log cabins (you could carve a Titanic-type cruiser out of one of those logs!). Inside their enormous homes, they drink lots of spirits out of gigantic bottles (photographic evidence to follow in the slideshow below). They are also biiiig party animals. Every night they hold five-course meals for themselves and the legions of their many friends. Did I mention that Canadians are extremely sociable, chatty and generally great mixers?

But when in Canada one tends to go searching for the Last of the Mohicans. As did we. We tracked them down in the end and, although they didn’t resemble Daniel Day-Lewis closely, I felt like I caught up with the ghosts of the land. And I felt honoured to speak to those amazing – and elusive – people. That brought back memories of my childhood when I would always be an Indian when we played Cowboys & Indians. I even had a bow with arrows and a feather headdress!

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Canada in instalments: 1 Port Edmonton

Canada is big. You will hear a lot of that in this travelogue. The country is big. The mountains and the lakes are big. Animals are bigger than our equivalents of them. People are big and they are also big-hearted. Following in this tradition, Port Edmonton is big too. You don’t know where it begins and where it ends. It just sits there in the windswept and open plains, which may be prairies, or may not be prairies at all, but they are vast, flat, blanketed with weather-beaten grasses and punctured with coniferous trees. So to me that equates prairies. Port Edmonton is sprawled in the middle of that vastness.

Whilst there, our wonderful hosts took us back in time to Port Edmonton of the yesteryear. You might think that there is no history to speak of in Canada and you might even be excused in thinking that any trip back in time will take you straight to the Stone Age. But you will be wrong. Take a look at this little gem of the Wild (Canadian) West:

 

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The Grand Old Duke of York…

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It was time for crossing the North-South divide and following the grand old Duke of York to the top of that hill. We travelled to York ready for a frosty reception and the War of Roses. But it was a friendly and warm place, and it offered peace to the world on all fronts.

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For a few days we lived in the friendliest little B&B, run by a Viking-type character with red hair, plenty of tattoos and non-nonsense approach to hearty, protein and fats-packed breakfast, bless him! We dined on traditional Yorkist food, slowly becoming full-blooded troopers.

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For some diversity, we lounged in Turkish Baths: a whole evening dedicated to sweating, braising our bodies on full heat and then dipping them in an ice-cold pool. Something akin to making wrought-iron swords of ourselves. There was some hyperventilating on Husband’s part, but he recovered quickly and without grumbling.

On a cultural front, we visited York Theatre Royal to watch Agatha Christie’s murder mystery (nearly wrote mysery!). It was excellent, stylish and true to Miss Marple.

But the most satisfying was just loitering around York and inhaling its atmosphere. We scaled the walls and were nearly swept off them by the gales. We trotted to and fro in the Shambles, searching for ghosts of the past.

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York Cathedral took our breath away. It’s a living form, not a building. It sits on ancient foundations which outdate the Romans, and it rises all the way to heaven. One can just settle down in a pew and soak in the spirits that float there free and unobstructed by the twenty-first century.  Some of them have their heads immortalised in one of the chambers.

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Be my rock, a trip to Cornwall

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This is what I needed – Cornwall. I didn’t know that at the time of our departure. We had been offered this trip as part of some promotional programme, and I thought it was too good to be true. At first it seemed I was right – we were stuck in snail-paced traffic, desperate for a wee and envious of road-side kill (at least they didn’t care any more!).

Then there was the tortuous seminar, sweetened by an offering of high tea accompanied by a highly entertaining persona of a chap called Derek. The least we could do was to smile politely and listen (some of us did, others were still dying for a wee; too much high tea, you see.)

But it was all worth it! I’d gone there feeling low (for reasons of my own you don’t want to know), and re-evaluating my purpose in life; I came back feeling… alive in the very least. I found peace, fresh breeze, a horizon to drown myself in, and even a rocky companion that went exceptionally well with my t-shirt cacti.

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We’re good friends, the rock and I (and my t-shirt cacti).

Four days later, we had to be separated and it was time to face the real world, traffic, road-side kill and existential musings all inclusive. We waved goodbye to Cornwall. For those in the know I found Cornwall strikingly similar to New Zealand and French Brittany. Such a small world we live in – I fail to understand why some of us wish to slash it into yet smaller pieces and put barbwire fences between us, but I don’t want my musings to get in the way of universal beauty, so here is more of the good thing:

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