Wednesday, December 13, 2017

England - Chris and Emmas wedding - part 1

Approximately 934 days after me and Buffton Rovers last flew over the Mid Atlantic ridge on our way from Little Old England to Huge new Canada, we made the return journey. Lots of things have changed in the 2 and a half years since we planted our tiny feet in the soft muddy soils of the mother land, but one more thing was just about to happen and this was the reason we left the snow and frigid temperatures of North America, to once again enjoy the balmy (barmy) weather of the lump of land just west of the European continent  - Chris and Emma are getting married and we were there to share in the celebrations!

The journey over was good but tiring. For unknown reasons, we didn't manage to sleep on the flight to Gatwick and had a drive north from the airport to Manchester ahead of us.

We had a hire car booked and after the trauma of getting through customs as Gatwick, finding the car rental bus and then waiting for the idiotic and pathetic customer service at the rental office (Which incidentally is called Green Motion - But when I saved the location on Google Maps the spellcheck corrceted it to Green Moron, which is really quite apt given the idiot that served us!) we finally headed north on our quest to find the promised land. The land of Gregg's pasties, Red football shirts, good pubs and great chippies.

First stop though was a little roadside snack van just north west of London where we spent the £5 we had saved from 934 days ago on two huge and delicious sausage baps, smothered in butter and ketchup - to make us feel at home and keep us awake on our journey North.

Sausage and egg butties

It was delicious and soon after we sat happily laughing and pointing at the silly people who decided to join us on the car park that was once known as the M6 motorway. We laughed and laughed at the wonderful position we found ourselves in as the google maps display on my phone showed the remaining on our journey increase by the second until it felt like we had gone backwards in time. Haahaa, this was sooo enjoyable I don't know how I kept myself from bursting with pride at just how good the English have gotten as queueing. It made me feel proud. The roads in England have definitely got easier to drive in last two years as now you just sit on the tarmac and don't go anywhere! Its so much easier to avoid a collision when you aren't actually moving. (Chortle) 

Anyway, eventually we dragged ourselves away from the rest of the cars and finally arrived at Chris and Emma's house in Urmston, where we met up with Gareth, Tracey and Chris and Emma and of course Taz the dog.

So shy Taz.

Its great to see my family after such a long time and that evening we went to the pub quiz at the Urmston for dinner and to catch up with our old mate Dave. A tiny bit of Canadian bias meant we managed to win 2nd prize in the quiz, beating my nephew James and his missus Pimm. Then after nearly 30 hours without a sleep we headed home to Paul and Sophie's house, where Chris's best mate Paul had kindly let us use his bedroom for our stay for the wedding weekend.
End of the pub quiz.

Friday was a great day. We had a nice lie in and wondered how to adjust the blinds in Paul and Sophie's bedroom (It turned out they are part of the Internet of things and you need and app and Internet to move them, which is ace!) After a spot of breakfast at lunchtime me and Boof took a long walk to Chris and Emma's where we met up with everyone. The boys were headed to Manchester city centre and a concert of Manchester 'cover bands' singing Stone Roses, Smiths and Oasis songs, while the girls went for a meal out in Urmston.
Bucket hats are go

The first stop for the boys was typical Manchester - A beautiful old building once owned by Refuge assurance is now a huge and amazing pub. Serving great drinks in great atmosphere inside an open plan style pub with the original stone tiles covering the walls. It really is a beautiful bar and a great place to stop for a couple of pints. After one more stop on the way to the Academy we arrived and had a great 4 hours or so singing along and dancing to all our favour old tunes from the days of Madchester. Bucket hats were worn alongside the traditional northern Adidas trainers and lots of beers were drunk. It was a great night.
                                        Wonderwall - 2 mins 55 secs and Chris and Gareth singalong!!

                                      Sally Cinnamon - More manc singing!!

More videos from the night can be seen on my youtube channel....

After midnight we took a taxi home and woke with sore throats from singing too much.
Chris and Emma were due to marry at 3.30pm, so the morning was spent getting things ready and Paul was seen still contemplating his speech close to lunch time.

Finally it was time to leave for the ceremony and me and Buuuuuufffff picked up my Aunty Brenda as she needed a lift to Sale Town Hall with us. We met up in the pub opposite the town hall (At least most of us did......) and enjoyed a beer (Apart from James who didn't get served as he had no ID) before a few photos and finally making our way across the road to climb the steps to the town hall and watch Chris get wed. It was a lovely ceremony, watched by about 50 friends and family. Emma looked wonderful in her wedding dress and Chris looked great in a new suit and tie. His red tie matching those of Paul the best man and both Chris and Emma's kids - a lovely touch.
Chris and the kids

What you got here Abbey?


Paul Contemplates his speech.
Emma arriving

Buffffty and Brenda wait
The ceremony
A few photos were taken outside on the town hall steps before we all jumped back in our cars and drove back to Davyhulme Golf club for the evening reception and piss up!!         

The evening also turned out great. About 70 people sat down for a lovely meal, with a few of us also following the United v Arsenal game on our mobile phones. After the meal there were the speeches - Emma's two sons - Alistair and Adam had asked to make a speech and had a few people near tears as they told of their love for Emma and Chris and how happy they are all now a fcomplete amily. The two boys did a great job of their speech and were followed by Chris and Paul, who both also nailed their speeches. Lots of laughter and chicks of glasses and toasts were made and then it was time for the first dance.

Watching United v Arsenal before the party started

Speech time

We all joined Chris and Emma on the dance floor and I don't think there was a moment during the whole night where there weren't any people dancing. A conga made its way around the hall a few times and more people arrived to join in the fun including loads of our family. Eleanor, David, Sarah and Mark made it from Macclesfield and when Cath, Andrew, Helen, Jenny and Matthew arrived it was the biggest meeting of Davey family cousins ever! Even Tony and Joyce, with Sharon and Tracey with their hubbies made it over from Dereham near Norwich. It so good to catch up with them again! 
Our Beautiful Ladies.

With Tony and Joyce - Almost like my 2nd mum and dad!

All the Cousins together (Except Alex who was working)

The night passed by far too quickly -The DJ stopped around midnight and after saying goodbye to everyone we shared a Taxi back to Paul and Sophie's where we enjoyed a great night sleep - With the magic blinds down! haha. We really must thank Paul and Sophie for being great hosts to us for teh weekend. It really was a fantastic wedding and a brilliant night, but our week in England was only just beginning - we had a few journeys to make and people to see, so take a look back here soon and see what else we got up to on our trip.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Pomp and circumstance and exploding ice things

So, its a Wednesday evening so this means Buffy goes to choir, whilst I have a nice soak in the bath and watch various idiot entrepreneurs make fools out of themselves on TV, in front of Lord Alan Sugar as he searches for his next apprentice. Today was especially good as 3 of these idiots got the old 'You're fired!', and Alans middle finger pointed at them as they left the fake boardroom. How could a night get better? I'll tell you how...By sitting in our newly moved about living room and playing 'Elgars Pomp and circumstance' as I write my bloggy blog. One of my favourite pieces of music ever and if I had ever made it as a professional boxer (Very unlikely) the music I would have chosen as my entrance theme.

Whilst I write about it I may as well show you the living room. We haven't done anything drastic, but just moved the sofa, chairs and stereo to make a little more room and a calmer feel - apart from the bowler hat wearing dinosaur attacking the miniature village anyway....

From the formal dining area
Looking into the lounging and rest department

Arrrrrgh  run for your lives. Bowler hat wearing dinosaur!!!
So, you can see that me and the missus have been a little bit busy these last couple of weeks. We have been out and about too enjoying fish and chips down at the forks as well as a wonderful 21 gun salute on Remembrance day just behind the legislature building. A great way to remember the fallen but never forgotten.

The forks and river covered in snow

The guns before the 21 gun salute

A cold bear. (Not as good as a cold beer)

The ledge in a snowstorm.
You can tell from all these photos that it is now winter and a bit chilly here in Canada, Weird things happen here in winter and if you keep reading I will endeavour to tell you about one of those weird things that happened to me.... so read on..

Keep reading...

Here it comes....

OK, just kidding its coming next...

So, one morning a couple of weeks ago, I went off to work, locking our back porch after turning on the alarm as I do every day.

I nipped home for lunch and opened the back porch to find big lumps of dirty brown ice strewn across the floor of the porch. Immediately I presumed someone had been in there and trudged across the floor with dirty brown ice falling from their shoes. But the door was locked and the alarm still set.

What I found...

A right mess...
I nervously entered the house and expected to find a homeless vagabond eating all our chocolate hobnobs (Yep, we always have chocolate hobnobs in), but I found nothing. The expensive looking wine glasses were still here along with the toaster, light bulbs and computer. Nothing seemed to be missing - Even the mattress stuffed with cash we sleep on every night. All $43 in pennies was still there! Nothing had been stolen. So how , I wondered, had the dirty brown ice made its way into the porch and up the walls and door - It was quite a mess.

I investigated further and discovered what had happened. Take a look at the photo and see if you can spot it....

Do you see it??
  If you look carefully you will see a tray of cans of coke. One of those cans is lying on its side where it exploded after freezing and expanding, spraying frozen cola all over the porch and walls.
The moral of the story is - You don't want your drinks to be that cold!!!

One other very quick story from the last couple of weeks involves a party, a camera and a toilet roll. It sounds disgusting and a bit dirty, but in fact was just a quirky way to take a photo. I think it was quite inventive....

Bearded man through bog roll

More news from the Extra long summer - I must tell you about the store me and Buffy used to work at.....and where we still have some good friends....

The old store nearly cleared out...

If you visited for the wedding or live in Winnipeg, you probably got taken to Wilderness supply in their old location. A quaint but ultimately small and dingy little store near the airport.
Rick, the owner finally took the chance a few months ago and bought an old building nearer the city centre, renovating it and turning it into a lovely big new flagship store. It opened its doors just a week or two ago and it is such an improvement on the old place. I highly encourage anyone in town to go and take a look!!

The new store - being filled up!

Now, the big news around these parts is the impending marriage of my brother Chris to his missus Emma. Me and Buff are taking some unpaid time off work to go home to UK, spend some time with friends and family in Manchester and catch up with everyone as well as what we know will be a brilliant wedding day. We will tell you all about it next time, but one of the things we miss from UK is the Thursday night pub quiz hosted by DJ Dave Bradley at the Urmston pub. it a pub quiz like you never saw with the questions being answered in phones and tablets with real time scoring. Its amazing.

Well, last week our mate Joel put on his DJ's attire. broke out his laptop and hosted the first Canadian Hot Spot quiz to make some money for the choir. It was nearly as good as a night at the Urmston and went down to the last question on the last round before me, Buffy, Walker and rest of the team took away first prize by just 8 points.
I hope theres another one again soon!! Anyway, thanks to Joel for organizing it and I cant believe that in 8 days we will be at the Urmston again for the first time since May 2015. Its going to be amazing and then we have the wedding too. We really cannot wait and are so excited to go home and see Chris and Emma marry, see Gareth and Tracey and all the family and friends we miss.

Hot spot quiz Canada

Nearly as good as Dave.
So, keep an eye out in a couple of weeks time and read all about the adventures in UK!!

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Weather and weird movies

Winter is coming??
Just a few short weeks ago the following article appeared in the local Winnipeg news rag -
October heat record Winnipeg.

It tells the amazing story of how this winter city has just had the hottest October day ever - a lovely balmy 31celsius. I remember that day - I was out working and stopped for a slush, to cool my poor overheating body parts. It was a lush slush.

No just one calendar month later and as predicted for the last 6 years or so in 'Game of Thrones', Winter has arrived

Take a look through the superheated, transparent, silica and limestone walls I have decided to call windywoos, and you will see a 10 centimetre layer of white stuff. This white stuff is made from water vapour that has frozen around specks of dirt in the air and formed into a substance known as Coldysnow. Its taken just a few short weeks for the entire environment to change from a beautiful warm autumnal landscape into a beautiful winter landscape and to be honest, at the moment, I really like it. It is the first time since the Canadian government lowered the standard of immigration so far as to let me into the country that somehow, the world looks,well, right.

Living over here in Winter is different to living in Europe in Winter. In Europe, you get some show here and there and might have to put on another layer of clothing for a day or three. But over here, after 4 winters previously, I have finally got everything I need to successfully get through winter without too much hassle.

You see, here, we have a cupboard upstairs which acts like the 'seasonal' aisle in a supermarket. A couple of weeks ago, this cupboard held winter boots, hats, scarves, big winter coats and the attachments for my trainers so when I go running on the ice I don't fall and break a finger again. This seasonal cupboard is now full of flip flops, this Summer jackets and sun tan lotion. I have twice as many clothes as I ever had before because the change from one season to another can be so dramatic. But its cool, literally. Actually at the moment its only about minus 6, but over the next few weeks and into the new year it will get really chilly. I will let you know when it gets really cold and will try to grow a beard for a week or two in the new year just so that I can go out and get it frozen and take some cool photos.

White stuff.

Langside Grocery.
In between studying for my Grade 2 chemistry exam (This explains my detailed knowledge of Snow and windows above) and installing telephones into dentists and Realtors, I still try to keep fit by running when I can and walking when i cant. Over the last few weeks my old shoulder injury flared up again which made it painful to run, so I have been tabbing around the local area when I can and taking the opportunity to wander down some streets I haven't visited in a while.

One of these streets was Langside St, just a few blocks over from home. There used to be a grocery store there on a corner which was like the old grocery stores I remember as a kid back in Manchester in the 70's. But the store closed a few years ago and the windows have been boarded up since. Until a few weeks ago, when the windows were uncovered to reveal a small but perfectly formed bar/cocktail place/pub lovingly built to look like its been transported here from the 1940's. Without all the TV's and blaring music you get in some places. Now, I love to go out and watch a bit of sport in the pub, but when me and Buff went around to Langside Grocery and spent a wonderful couple of hours trying the cocktails, whilst sitting at the bar under the intimate lighting and watching the word go by through the traditional windows we knew we had found a new favourite place to waste a few hours after a long week. If you are in Winnipeg, don't tell anyone that this place exists because we want it all to ourselves.....

Small and unassuming - It doesn't even have a sign

Before it opens for the evening..
Every now and then we get together with friends and watch bad movies. Sometimes these tale a theme and last night Joel and Alena came around to watch some old musicals. Now, I am not sure whether these were meant to be bad movies or even if they actually were that bad, but I just felt the need to explain a little about them and the fact that they were both, just a bit........odd....

An American in Paris.
An American GI who settled in Paris works as an artist. He gets sponsored by a lonely woman to create his own art show, but the woman also wants him for herself. At the same time he falls in love with his friends fiance who he meets by accident in a bar.
A few months later the secret comes out and the woman he fell in love with leaves Paris with her fiance, but as she gets into the car to leave the movie goes through a 17 minute dream dance sequence in the GI;s head. At the end of the sequence we see the girl get back out of her car kiss her fiance goodbye and return to our hero. The fiance actually smiles and waves her goodbye before leaving. There is never any explanation why this happens.

Lucky, is a man who dances and gambles with equal verve and is engaged to be married but misses his wedding because of his gambling. His fiances father tells him he can have another chance i he can earn $25000. He goes away to do this but falls in love with a dance teacher. The dance teacher is engaged to another man (again) They have an on/off romance until the dance teacher decides she cannot trust him and she goes to get married to her fiance. However, (and I shit you not, this is actually what happens in the movie) while the fiance is getting ready for the wedding, our hero bursts into laughter steals his wedding suit trousers. The fiance still turns up to the wedding, but wearing trousers lent to him by his man servant which are far too big. The dance teacher who is waiting to marry him, sees this and bursts into laughter with everyone else, and then calls off the wedding leaving her fiance for Lucky. The spurned fiance then smiles and says 'So you going to marry him then?' before breaking into song. It is the weirdest end to a movie ever. If you don't believe it, then take a look at the clip here.....


Finally, Buffy has been working for ages on creating a gallery of photos on the stairs. We finally got all the photos together, she finished spraying the frames and we mounted them all this week. I think it looks amazing.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Bay named Thunder - Part 2.

We slept. We slept and then we slept a bit more. After the days hiking, the drinking and the 25 minute walk home with our belly's full of good food and tasty beverages, we deserved a sleep and so like Goldilocks, when she found the bears beds 'Juuuuuuuust Riiiiiight', we pulled the comfy quilt over our heads and slept for nearly 10 hours. It was the best nights sleep I think I have had this year.

We woke up late on Saturday morning and decided to take a short drive (we had walked enough yesterday) into the town centre to find a place for a bit of brekky (although it was nearer to lunch time).

The place we found is called Hoito - A lovely traditional style Finnish cafe which has been serving food to the Finnish population of Thunder Bay for 99 years apparently - and a place where you get some lovely tasty Finnish pancakes, with bacon, eggs, sausage and a little pancake syrup to give you a spring in your step at the start of another long day. The pancakes were delicious and filling and everything we wanted on this fine sunny October lunchtime

You can read a little more about Hoito here -

So, still worn out after yesterdays hike we decided to take it a little easier today and took a leisurely drive out of Thunder Bay to go and visit one of the local attractions - Kakabeka Falls.

These are a very pretty set of waterfalls just about 30 minutes out of Thunder Bay on the Kaministiquia River. (Try saying that after a few beers) The falls are 40 metres high, which is only 11 metres less that the more famous falls at Niagara. Kakabeka are just as pretty though and being surrounded by a lovely little wooded area rather than the casinos and waxworks you find at Niagara Falls, make these a much more pleasant experience. They are in fact an almost perfect miniature version of their better known but more downtrodden siblings. 

We enjoyed a good hours worth of wandering around and taking photos holding the rainbow which is visible from every angle as the water spray rises up into the sunlight. The only downside was trying to get the parking machine working so we could pay to leave the car for an hour. But it was a really nice and really pleasant way to spend a late fall afternoon. '

So, relaxed and rested we decided it was time to get back into a bit of hiking and to earn our next experience. So we drove back towards Thunder Bay and stopped off at an almost alien looking rock which sits just across the river from the city - Mount Mckay, where the 3000metre high rocky outcrop gives some spectacular views down onto the city and across Lake Superior towards The Sleeping Giant and as far as you can see. 

First though we had to get up to the top and after a couple of navigational errors caused by following Google Maps, we eventually arrived at the car park from where the path leads to the top. Did I say path? I meant Rock scramble- as the way up is found by clambering up over rocks and boulders for a good 20 minutes or so until you finally reach the huge flat topped peak. 

We spent a good hour or so up there, sitting with our feet dangling over the edge and taking in the awesome view. I must admit at one point I refused to let Buffy sit at the edge of a sheer drop precipice to pose for a photo - A small slip would mean certain death and I felt a bit nauseous just thinking about it. In the past, particularly on our time in Australia, we both did similar things but for some reason today I had a bad feeling about it and refused to let he risk it for a photo. 

Anyway we did get some great photos while we were up there and then made a stop motion video of the journey back home  - right from the mountain top back to our room in our airbnb.   

Our third an final night in Thunder Bay was spent in much the same way as the previous one - We wandered into town, found a pub (The Red Lion), ate some very nice food, went from that pub to a different pub, drank beer till it was gone then drank some more. Then we wandered back home in the wee late hours trying to not get too scared by the My Halloween lawn show will be bigger than your Halloween lawn show competition that seems to be taking place in the neighbourhood. It really was a bot ridiculous and Halloween is still a few weeks away

Sunday morning. Oh how I enjoyed Sunday morning. 
We stayed in bed till sooo late. Then into town for a final wander around the little park by the waters edge and a huge massive big super breakfast in a busy pub whilst watching 'Young Frankenstein; on video. This was one of these pubs that has a TV showing old 70's and 80's movies permanently and has a big video library behind the bar that they randomly pick from as soon as one movie ends. Haahaa.

We jumped back into the Kia Rio (Not a Kia Rio, we could fit one of those in the boot) and spent an hour wandering through the woods collecting a few geocaches to while away the time before we needed to head towards the airport. 

We also noticed this sign and I would love to know if anyone has an idea wha the hell it means.... Is that a ghost??

Car dropped off, checked in for flight and we were on our way back home to Winnipeg. But not before I nearly spat out my drink on the flight whilst I read the cartoons in the paper. I know, I have lived over here long enough to know better, but I still cant get over how they use the word fanny......

That was it. Thunder Bay in a weekend. It was a short but great weekend in what is a nice little City. With plenty to see and do over e few days. We have promised ourselves we will try and do this type of think at least a coupe of times a year, so the planning starts now for the next one. We don't know where or when yet, but I cant wait!!