Sunday, October 15, 2017

The bay named Thunder! Part 1.

Platypus disenchantment part 7.
This has nothing to do with unhappy platypii.

Earlier this summer my missus, Buffy, went away, alone, with another bloke, Joel, to Banff. For his after-wedding bachelor party. Now if you don’t know Joel, I must tell you that he is a great bloke and one of Buffys best mates. So, there were really no worries on my part about Buffy going away for the weekend with anothet man. But it gave me and Buffter Mcwalkalot an idea…. Why don’t we take a long weekend every now and then and do the same ourselves? Go away somewhere and have some fun doing some different stuff to what we normally do?

Seems like a good idea yeah? So here we are a few months later in Thunder Bay, Ontario. After an hour-long flight and a wait for a hire car where we waited for the rednecks to pick up their ‘off road’ wagon and spoke at length with a 70-year-old lady going to see her 91-year-old mum for ‘probably the last time’, just to tidy her gardens and say hello for the 2nd time this year, we find ourselves in a big black dodge charger with 8 gears and an engine the size of Elon Musk’s bank account (Does he have a bank account? Or does he just own the bank?).

We booked a Kia Rio or ‘something similar’. We didn’t need anything too big. So, when we ventured out of the airport and clicked the push button on the car remote, we were a little surprised to see a car the size or Gibraltar flash it’s huge, over the top sidelights at us. It’s a nice car, but it’s like asking for a salad in a restaurant and being given one of those steaks that if you eat the whole thing you get it for free! With 4 sides of fries.
Not a Kia Rio.
Onto our accommodation and we have a lovely little Airbnb house in a nice suburb of Thunder Bay. It is supposed to be just us -But the owner lives upstairs and it’s a bit frustrating as if we were on our own, we could walk around naked and sleep in the fridge, but as he is upstairs, it might be frowned upon. But nevertheless, it’s still a lovely little place to stay.

After a poor night’s sleep (I aren’t used to different sleeping arrangements) We were up at 8am and on our way to the big adventure we had planned – a wander of about 23kilometers to climb the sleeping giant – One of the most popular day hikes in this part of Ontario. You start at the side of Lake Superior on the Ontario/USA border and climb about 250metres in height to reach the top of the Giant, where the views are wonderful over the water to Thunder Bay and Lake Superior itself out to the USA. The trail takes between 5 and 8 hours and we completed it in 6, with a good stop at the peak to take some photos and enjoy the view as well as a couple of other stops to take in the southerly views too and a short time spent skimming rocks into the chilly, calm waters of Tee Harbour – a lovely little picnic spot with no-one else near to spoil our enjoyment of the wonderful scenic beauty. It was a tiring hike, but well worth the effort to spend some well-earned down time in such a beautiful place.

Lake Superior behind us.


She is there!

Like Ant and Dec - Buff is always on the left as you look at us... always!

After the hike, we headed back to town in the black beast and stopped at the Terry Fox monument. Terry Fox is a true Canadian hero for his Marathon of Hope in 1980 which came to such a tragic end just about here in Thunder Bay. I ran a few Terry Fox memorial runs in the army when I worked alongside the Canadian military, so it was wonderful to see the amazing memorial built to honour him alongside the road that now bears his name. If you don’t know who Terry Fox is you should take a few minutes to google him as it’s such a great uplifting story with a tragic ending.

My log

Terry Fox monument

Wilderpoop supply Thunder Bay

We went out for dinner after getting changed and wandered into central Thunder Bay, stopping at Wilderness Supply’s 2nd store which is here in the town centre. Mila, an old friend of ours welcomed us into the store during a quiet few minutes and after a good chat we continued into town for some well-earned food. We ended up in The Foundry where we enjoyed a huge burger and some locally caught fish and chips washed down with a few pints of Mr Canoehead, a beer brewed in the city at the Sleeping Giant brewery. It was lovely and alongside the Juniper and lemon cider we also shared it made a great end to a long, tiring but satisfying day. It’s now time to take another wander up another hill, something we don’t do much in flat as a pancake Winnipeg, and head off to our bed for the night.   
I will warn you, there may also have been a few minutes when i did an impression of a beheaded child in a local store but you will never know if you dont watch the following poorly video'd link.....

and there you go....... 

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Leaving. Leaves and a lifting bridge

Sometimes the hardest part of this stupid blog is deciding on the title. Sometimes I write the whole thing and still cant think of a title. Other days, like today I have a title first and then fill in the bumph later. Leaving, leaves and a lifting bridge pretty much tells you whats going on in the blurb below. But sometimes my head soup curdles away until some absolute shite (or genius depending on what your point of view is) comes out. Some of my favourite titles over the years are:-

Spank me!

Mickey Mooncock, Keanu Reeves and a day out in Cleethorpes!

Rick asked me to come up with a title for this, but he can't read this so....everyone just pretend I did, Ok?

The 50th state - Whats the date!? Bollocks.



Feel free to click the links and find out what the hell was going on (especially lazy Buffy's attempt to add to my blog as a guest poster - Ill not let her do that again!)

Anyway, on with the show - just what the goddamn fudge has been going on in the lives of Buffy (Hamilton lover - the musical not the racing driver) Davey and Rick (Yes, I actually wrote this shit) Davey.


Yep we left. It was hard leaving. But we left. 'Huh', I hear from everyone in Winnipeg - 'You are still here', they shout! 'Yes we are!' I reply. But I didn't tell you we had left Winnipeg. We actually left the cabin - For the final time this summer and as we did we helped Jon and Susan prepare it for winter.

Now, this isn't something we ever prepared for at home in England - For one reason, winter in England isn't that cold and for another reason - we didn't live on an island in the middle of a lake in England!

So what needs doing I hear you ask. Bloody everything I reply!
All the food and drink that has been taken there and not eaten needs to be eaten or taken back to the city. Bedding taken off beds, all the outdoor lights and plants taken away or packed up. All the outdoor furniture gets locked away under the cabin. All the dock furniture gets locked away or put under a huge tarp to protect it from the winter snow and ice. Everything gets cleaned, tidied and put away including the Grumman (metal boat with motor) which is manhandled up onto the dock, turned upside down and locked to the dock, so that it doesn't float away or get stolen The motor is removed, serviced for next year and put into storage. Its a busy time of year and along with trying to drink all the alcohol that was left out there made our last weekend out there busy but fun! Only 7 months or so till we can go back out there and get it all unpacked again for next summer!

The dock all packed up.
It is that time of year. When the lovely green lush leaves that grew over the summer die, and fall to the ground to slowly decay and turn back into soil. Over a period of time they become food for the tree which they fell from and for small animals to burrow into in order to keep warm , lay eggs and take a shit. Pretty useful really!

Apart from the leaves that dont like gravity and avoid it by landing on my roof and relaxing in my eave troughs and drainpipes. These leaves like to stop the flow of water and as the weather gets colder this water freezes, expands and stops more water flowing. Then this water expands more and completely messes up my lovely roof. Making me angry and I have to spend money to stop the roof falling off and my house becoming a set of four walls with a hole at the top.

So this time of year, I climb up the cheap ladder we bought and stand like a conqueror on the steep roof with a brush in my hand to remove these nasty little bugars, to try and prevent this chain of events occurring. Also I like climbing.

So me and Buffy spent a very pleasant evening doing just that - cleaning gutters (and also cleaning next doors as Paula next door is great and we might as well do hers too) It was fun and now our gutters are as clean as a bald mans bald patch after he has just shaved and polished his head.

See the photos here!!

Lifting Bridge.

So this week I have been working at a Law office in Selkirk - about 45 minutes north of the City.

Its one of those little towns that you can imagine 100 years ago having a saloon with horses tied up outside on a dirt road. It still has that kind of feel to it with the flat fronted buildings hiding sloped roofs behind the facades. It also has a cool lifting bridge across the river, which is rusting away now and only lifts once a year or so, but I found out that when it was built back in 1936 there were arguments on who would pay for the bridges maintenance. Because of this the bridge remained raised for about a year until a couple of local men - after an evening of drinking - decided to lower bridge themselves to allow people to use it. It stayed lowered and the argument over maintenance ended. By the look of the bridge now it still needs a lot of maintenance, but its a cool piece of history and a nice place to spend a lovely warm autumn lunchtime.

The bridge

Selkirk from across the river


The story of the bridge

Incidentally, the lawyers office I have been working in is next door to a building being used by CBC to film a new legal drama called 'Burden of Truth'. Hmm, maybe I got a walk on part playing a sarcastic, short arsed British knob head. Or maybe I didn't.....

Here's a few more photos of the old part of Selkirk and the film crew...

Imagine a cowboy sitting here with  Whisky.


Time for lunch I think.
Everthing that can be counted does not necessarily count.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Bananas, Burgers and Burton.

You ever had one of those days? You know the ones, when you can’t find your socks in the morning and as the day goes on every. Little. Thing. Goes. Wrong.

Yep, I had one of those days a few days ago,….
It started when I sat in the car ready for work and reached down to put my cell phone on the dash.. No cell phone? Where is it? I jumped back out of the car, ran into the house, back upstairs, downstairs and after searching found it sat on the coffee table. I am sure I didn’t put it there, but there it was.

I got to work and as there is a lack of spaces usually you park behind each other – moving your car if someone in front of you needs to get out. I usually try to park behind someone who doesn’t leave the office much. But today, somehow, I was one of the first there and had to park at the front. Of course when I went to leave shortly after I couldn’t find the person who was behind me!

My job for the day was simple – I had installed server software on a PC last week at a travel agents and was expecting to install software onto the PC’s of the agents themselves to connect to the server. But when I arrived I installed the first one and couldn’t ‘see’ the server. It turned out I had forgot to set the computer not to log off, so had to return to the office to pick up a monitor, keyboard and mouse, to log onto the standalone server to reset it. After a 30 minute round drive, I returned and failed in this simple task. It just wouldn’t work. So after an hour trying to solve this simple task I gave up and called tech support – a nice guy based in Arizona. He spent an hour looking at the same things I had looked at before giving up and reinstalling the entire software suite and re-setting everything I had done last week. He said he had no idea why it wasn’t working.

I then finished the software installation, before calling a different tech support in Florida as the customer told me he kept losing connection to the incoming phone lines. This fault also wasn’t solved after 2 hours on the phone, so I had to set up a reset overnight and hope the fault cleared.
My simple one hour day had taken 7 hours and I achieved very little apart from knowing whatever happened wasn’t my fault.

It was time to go home and this week was Burger week in Winnipeg. (Le burgerweek) when loads of Canadian Cities have restaurants making special burgers for one week only hoping to win the champion burger prize. Winnipeg has over 100 cafes and restaurants taking part this year including two of our favourites – Sherbrook Street Deli and 1958cafe, run by our old mate Ross. We decided to try the deli this evening and 1958 the next day. However, the deli closes at 5.30 so when Buffy said she was running late and wouldn’t make it home in time I headed round to pick up a burger as a takeaway and bring it home. The waiter was very happy to inform me that they were sold out when I arrived – Bugar - especially since we now know it won one of the best burger prizes. I had one more errand to run before the end of the shit day – There was just one thing on our shopping list – a shopping list that normally has multiple items at any time had just one – BANANAS. I had a feeling as I walked into Food Fare that it wouldn’t work out and so I stood, open mouthed, with a feeling of frustration and a little amusement as I stared at the completely empty Banana shelf. It was the cumulation of a shitty day and the final nail in the coffin.

Fuck you non existant bananas. Fuck you all the way home you bastards!

The next day was much better – Things went right at work and at home. It got even better when me and Herr Buffmeister III went to 1958 to try the ‘Smash that loaf’ burger. We went in, sat down and were joined by Adam and Alena who just happened to pick the same day and time to try the same burger.
The burger was great – a mini meatloaf wrapped in bacon and covered with a poached egg. Plus, lots of other flavours I loved. The best burger of burger week for me!
Smash that loaf


Anyway, that was a couple of weeks ago – We have been busy since as normal, so here’s a little update on a few bits and bobs….

Another fine weekend was spent at the cabin - the weather was nice enough for a cooling swim in the lake and me and Buffy vied for world domination with a game of Risk - I wont tell you who won - Its not about the winning, but the taking part. 

Buffy 'Taking part'.

Morning at the lake
There were also a couple of unexpected guests at the lake that weekend - A pair of huge Bald eagles. We do see Bald eagles around sometimes but it is unusual for them to fly in and land in a tree right above the cabin. Buffy heard them chittering and we spotted them high up right above us and watched them for a good 20 minutes before they flew off into the wilderness. Cool!!

A pathetic jump I know - But proof I went in!

Last week we helped to celebrate Randy and Krys's wedding. Much like our wedding last year it turned into a rainy day, but the family of crazies that we all belong to didnt care and we had a great time watching the ceremony and then partying into the night - Buffy and Jon were also asked to play violin and guitar for the ceremony and did a great job. A great day -  so congratulations again to Krys and Randy and for keeping the crazy wedding ceremony tradition going!!
The crowd!

Susan is under the blanket!

Jon and Buffy play on

I cant help but smile!

The day after the wedding was my birthday - We had arranged a trip to the pub to watch the football with the usual crowd, but Buffy had also arranged for a whole load of friends to turn up too! Thanks to everyone for coming but especially Rebecca who brought little Holland down to give me a birthday card! Awesome!!

We got to see a couple of Winnipeg legends this last week –
First one of our local pubs was hosting an open mic night led by the lovely Al Simmons – a children’s performer by trade, but a lovely man with a wry sense of humour. Buffy even managed to spend a few minutes on stage chatting with him and breaking a Guinness world record (sort of) before she sang her songs.

Buffy and Al - a burgeoning double act..

Then this Friday we went to The Burton Cummings Theatre to see the man himself – Burton Cummings, in concert. I had never heard of Burton Cummings before coming back to Winnipeg, but a couple of years ago, heard a song on the radio – ‘Stand Tall’. I loved the song and when the announcer said the name Burton Cummings, I didn’t know he was from Winnipeg. I looked up the song online and found out! Anyway, we were out shopping and looking through old albums in a thrift shop a few weeks later and came across his album of greatest hits – How could you not love that face!!
We bought the album and when a few months later found out he was coming home to play some shows in the theatre that bears his name, we had to buy tickets.
Burton does his thing

 Stand Tall....

The end of the show

It was a great night – the crowd was a good mix of old and young and for a nearly 70-year-old man, he has some energy – playing a set of nearly 2 and ½ hours with no break – some newer performers could learn a thing or two about how to play a show. Also, the shows are being put on to help pay for some updates to teh aging but winderful old theatre. New seats are being planned, the bathrooms and lobby area are being modernised and there is a huge new sign outside that you can see for miles!! 
The brilliant new sign - in the shape of Manitoba!

Today is a lovely wet, autumnal Sunday afternoon. After a few beers at Stef’s apartment last night we had a nice lie in before breakfast at 1958. Then to walk off the food, we had a wander around Wolseley in the rain – enjoying a wander round one of the back lanes that is slowly turning into a little tourist destination. One of the residents is an artist that specialises in nature style pictures. She has been painting Canadian style pictures on garage doors and fences in this little back alley near us. It’s a lovely way to brighten up the area and something I hope can get even larger – such a nice way to spend a cold wet afternoon.

We then went home and put together our new, handmade tables – made by our good friend Lori, who also made our dining table. We have been oiling the table tops for the last week with tung oil and finally they are ready to be put together. We love them and they certainly make the front room look a little nicer. Thanks Lori!

Finishing touches

The last word for today must go to one of the local money lenders – I’m not saying I am super clever, but I just want to ask a question – what does % mean, because I don’t think they know and feel th eneed to explain!

Thanks for reading - watch out for leaves.