Thursday, November 28, 2019

Grey Cup Champs - Yurts and snowfun!!

Winnipeg is rocking right now.
Ill explain this in plain English for anyone not from Canada or Winnipeg....

In Canada we have a football (American style football) league called the CFL. The Canadian Football League.  This league is a bit like American Football, whereby big blokes in lots of padding chuck a weird shaped football at each other and have downs, touchdowns, running backs, quarterbacks and all the rest of the things from American Football. Except that this is Canada so instead of 4 downs we have 3. The field (pitch) is 110 yards instead of 100 (For reasons that nobody understands) and the players get paid a huge amount less than their American team counterparts. Also there are only 9 teams in the entire league, even though it is still split into east and west championships. Its all a bit rough and ready compared to the huge pay checks and glamour of the NFL/AFL. But that's what makes is exciting - For example - one of the main defensive players for the Winnipeg team - The Blue Bombers - eats at our local cafe!

Anyway, every year the season runs from early summer to November and culminates in the Grey Cup, a kind of Canadian Superbowl, with less money, less people and smaller half time stars (This year was Keith Urban) The teams from east and west fight it out for the season and basically, there are two play off games before the final. 2nd against 3rd in each division, with the winners playing the 1st placed team. The winners of these 2 games play the Grey Cup to be crowned champions. (Canadians - I am not even going to attempt to explain the crossover to anyone outside of Canada)

Well this year, the Bombers started well - winning the first 5 games. But then it started to go wrong. We lost a couple of games and then our starting quarterback got injured. Our replacement was in his 2nd year and did well, but then he too got injured. (Chris Streveler) We ended up signing another quarterback who himself had been injured at the start of the season and hadn't played since.(Zach Collaros) But what happened next was totally unexpected

The bombers had to play away to Calgary and Saskatchewan to reach the Grey Cup and the combination of Streveler running (with a broken foot) and Collaros throwing (Known as the double headed quarterback monster) gave us something extra. It was just great to watch. Then our defence got into its rhythm at exactly the right time and basically knocked the shit out of the opposing teams. They were immense. Plus we got a little bit of luck when we needed it - With the Roughriders hitting the goal post with their final pass of the game that could have taken it to extra time..

Here's a great link to the Bombers route to the Grey cup in 10 minutes.

We made the final yesterday and against the best team in the league (Hamilton Tiger Cats) we kicked their arses - Winning 33-12 and taking the Grey Cup home to Winnipeg for the first time in 29 years. Great defence - Streveler and Collaros both getting important game time and Andrew Harris, a Winnipeg born and bred running back, playing an amazing game, scoring 2 touchdowns.
The city went crazy- Portage and Main the major intersection in town was closed down as thousands of people celebrated.
Here's the highlights...

Also an awesome 9 seconds of Chris Streveler leaving the hotel with the cup and a huge cigar!!! This guy is a tank!!!

We had a great night watching it too as we were out in the afternoon to celebrate Jon and Susan's birthdays and after we all piled back to our little basement to watch the game! I felt like a local! It was awesome. No doubt I will post more later as tomorrow there is

I was lucky enough to be working downtown yesterday too, when they had a parade of the team and trophy! I found a car park overlooking Portage Avenue and then got to the forks before the team arrived to see more - It was a great hour or so - around 10000 people turned up in the middle of  the working day - with a lot of kids who should have been in school, but I think it was definitely OK for them to have a day off for this! Here's a few highlights...

In other news -
We had our annual weekend away at the Yurts in Minaki a couple of weekends ago. Because we have a crazy 16month old who wants to get her hands on everything and Adam and Alena have their 10 month old Jack, we decided not to take the a small yurt each this year, but to share the super-yurt
 - A 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom, fully equipped kitchen with 2 fireplace yurt, 3 storeys high, that the kids can run or crawl around in to the little hearts content and us adults can laze around, doing not a lot whilst having fun, playing games, eating, drinking and basically enjoying a good weekend together.

We had the chance for a wander around the trails in the woods and to give Hannah her first taste of sledding and snowballs - she isn't capable of making or throwing snowballs back as of yet, so basically she was an unmoving, giggling snowball target as I fired one after another at her! (see the video below!!)
It was our third year away together at the yurts and we all agreed taking the big yurt was definitely the best idea.

After the sledding at the yurts we had to get Hannah (and us) a good sled - so we got one last week and tested it out on a local hill...Hannah loved it and didn't want to come home - Its going to get a lot of use this winter!!!

Finally, winter is here - Its been a lovely end to the start of it - We had a good few days above zero degrees, which was nice as all the snow that had already fallen melted away. However, if you remember that last year I built this.....

and the back garden looked like this....

Well, I had already begun preparation, for this years bigger and better Ice 'thing'.
Just a couple of week ago the backyard looked like this....

But then I saw the warm weather coming and knew that if i started to build, the 'thing' would end up and coloured stains on the front garden and not a huge ice thing.

So I grabbed a tarp covered all the blocks and crossed my fingers, hoping that a week or two later I would still have something to work with and wouldn't have to start over again...

The sun came out, the temperature rose, it was lovely, but I wondered what was going on under that piece of blue material.....

Tonight, just before writing this, I ventured out, wearing a head torch in the dark and took a look. Unbelievably, most of the blocks were still there, a little melted around the edges, but big enough to use. I refilled the edges of the vessels (plastic bowls) .A few had spring leaks, but most survived intact. The weather is now expected to stay below freezing for the foreseeable future and my snow-glue is expected to fall from the sky in next few days (Snow mixed with a little water in a bowl, sticks ice blocks together like some kind of superglue on acid, its actually really cool and so I need snow. Then I can build quickly and safely)
So this weekend I begin to build..... Wolseley Ice here we come....

Friday, November 8, 2019

Burning Boris, docks, booze and Halloween

The cogs of a small watch turn in intricate movement, whilst the mechanism of the biggest clocks take more energy and space to move, and push the large and small fingers around a circle. This circle, normally has some form of number, digit or symbol, letting everyone around know how long it has been since yesterday ended and how many minutes until the next event in the future. Within the new few hundred words I will tell you about the progression of such events occurring to myself, Buffy and Hannah in the previous few thousand turns of tiny cogs within my favourite watch.

1958 is back - Kind of. 

Yep - a lot of family and friends who spent time at our house in Wolseley, will have been taken to the little cafe for breakfast or lunch. Sadly, it closed a couple of months ago, but since then there have been developments!
Ross, who owned and cooked for 1958 has taken on the Bella Vista. This is a well established pub/Italian style restaurant, that also has live music playing a few times a week. Ross has now taken over the entire place, keeping the traditional look and feel but adding breakfast and brunch meals to the menu. We have already visited a couple of times, including the first afternoon when he had the new bar pumps fitted and we (I)  enjoyed a particularly large pint of beer after helping Ross to get the pumps working! Hannah loves to run around causing havoc and we also got to watch Ross and Armando get their photos taken by the local paper.
 Good luck Ross, we cant wait to send more time in the Bella!!

Dock Drama..

October brought a lot of rain to Manitoba and Ontario. So much that the levels of the water in Lake of the Woods rose so much the docks at the cabin were in danger of ending up underwater. Not a major problem in the short term, but if it keeps going for long the docks could be destroyed by waves and in winter, by solid ice. So a few weekend ago me, Buff. Jon and Susan were up early on Saturday morning to go on a mission to save them. A 2 hour drive, which looks so different in fall, due to the lack of leaves on trees, took us to sugar bay, where we borrowed a friends boat an took the short trip across to the island. Indeed, the boat dock was close to being submerged, so we spent the next hour or so removing 2 out or every 3 boards, to allow the waves to flow over and through the dock instead of crashing into it. Apart from a few screws that we couldn't get out and a huge spider which was unceremoniously murdered by Susan (She brushed it off Jon's back into the water and after lying there for a while it disappeared. I am sure its probably fine.) We got the job done easily. The swim dock on the south of the island had a good 16 inches clearance, so we left it as it was and enjoyed a nice picnic on a lovely fall afternoon before heading back to the city. 

In Memoriam

The Penny Machine and football
Good news for myself, Gareth and Chris. After just a few minutes of help, Hannah now is able to put money into the Penny Machine  - and she loves it! She grabs the piece of wood that fills the gap at the bottom of the machine, plonks it on my or Buffy's lap and uses it as a seat. Then she gets some pennies, stands up, and feeds them into the machine. Mum and dad would be so pleased to see her playing with it!!

Oh, yeah - she also now enjoys kicking a football around - Future England or Canada soccer captain??

Last year, Hannah was too little for Halloween, so she just wore a costume, but didn't go out. This year, being slightly crazy and full of energy, she got to wear two costumes and visit so many houses to get candy treats! She hasn't quite go the concept yet though as she is such a kind little girl, when someone gave her candy, she wanted to share it and give it back! She is very cheeky though as just wandered into people houses. climbing stairs and taking a good peek around. It was the best Halloween I have ever experienced. Like being in a movie, where hoards of children run amok in the street collecting treats whilst the parents wander around enjoying a coffee and chatting with their friends. We were out for about 45 minutes and visited all our favourite neighbours. It was a really fun night and Hannah loved it.

The Tot Lot
Just a block down the street from us was an old tot lot - A small playground for toddlers to play in, with old play equipment and a sandpit. But a few weeks ago, without notice, it was closed off and everyone was up in arms, scared the tot-lot was no more. All the memories of their kids playing in there would remain just that - memories. We were all really sad - But we needn't have worried, as a week or so later the builders arrived and within a few days had started to transform it. Now, about 6 or 8 weeks after the closure, the tot lot is back and they did a great job of it!! Hannah was one of the first kids to get to play in it and she absolutely loves it now. The swings and slide are perfect for a tiny person like her and the smile on her face as she throws herself backwards down the slide is wonderful! Its a pity its so cold now, as a few minutes there is enough in this weather, but you can bet come spring, we will be there every day!

Planetarium Concert
Last weekend me and Buffy got to do something quite different. There is a local band called Mariachi Ghost, who were releasing a new album on the day of the dead and the album release was marked with a concert in the Planetarium! A really cool and different concept, so we grabbed tickets and went along. The Ghost have always been a really good band to watch as well as listen to - With a wild female dancer - a bit like a Mexican female version of Bez from the Happy Mondays, and crazy costumes and face paint for all the band members - we have enjoyed seeing them at various events around town for a couple of years now.

This concert was really cool though - The band playing live, whilst the planetarium visuals were mixed with a light and video show produced especially for the occasion to go along with the music. Buffy described some of it made her feel like she was high, but we bot really enjoyed sitting back looking in to the cosmos and seeing weird and wonderful visuals pass us by. The planetarium does other music shows, where they play famous albums accompanied by the star shows - so we will definitely be returning  for some of that sometime soon!

Bonfire Night

When Joel visited me Buffy and Chris in UK, it coincided with Bonfire night and the craziest 45 seconds you have ever seen. If you don't remember what happened when we put Chinese crackers in a cardboard version of the houses of parliament - here's a link to the video....

Now Joel's suggestion of a bonfire in Canada for bonfire night received a big reply of 'YES' from everyone. So on Tuesday 5th November, me Buffy, Joel and Byron headed to Adam and Alena's house armed with surprises to burn! Buffy had decided to make a Guy to put on the fire - She made a great Hannah sized Guy out of some baby clothes with a T-Shirt reading 'Its great to be me' all finished off with Boris Johnson's face! Unbeknown to us though, Joel and Byron also has a surprise. A wonderful little 'hand built from lolly sticks' version of the houses of parliament - complete with Big Ben tower and clock.

Before we burned all of this though we began the British themed evening with English beers and introducing everyone the great Manc tradition of Chip Barm and Pies! Buffy and me brought six hot pies along with soft white rolls (Barm cakes) and pre warmed chips (French Fries for you heathens) which when put together with Malt Vinegar and Ketchup, makes the greatest meal known to Man(cs)

I am not sure if everyone enjoyed it all as much as me, but they all ate well and seemed to like it!
The out into the garden on a chilly evening to start a fire, burn the Parliament, set fire the Guy and enjoy one of my favourite nights of the year. Of course in Canada, you cant have the huge burning blazes that are common in UK and Chinese crackers are actually illegal (Why!!!) But the night was great and we will definitely be revisiting the old traditions again next year.