Monday, April 16, 2012

The worlds biggest and itchy feet.....


Tuesday morning was freezing and so I took Buffy to work in the car instead of her riding her bike.
After dropping her off, I went to another supermarket – ‘The Real Canadian Superstore’. This time, I felt right at home. It’s a big (Tesco Extra big) store with everything from fruit and veg, to clothing, electrical and food – lots of food. Alright, they still didn’t have any meat and potato pies, but they did have real crisps (I don’t like Nachos) Ginger Nuts and HobNobs, Ribena and loads of other recognisable non-cardboard tasting North American Crap. (To any North Americans and Canadians reading this – I’m sorry, but I don’t like a lot of your food. We are different and like different tastes, but Nachos will never come close to a good packet of Prawn Cocktail crisps!!)

The shop got even better and slightly weirder, when I reached the end and saw boxes of fish, like in China and massive Crabs and Lobsters being kept fresh and alive in big glass tanks. Stranger still was to come when they had ‘Durians’, a strange Asian fruit that we tried in Indonesia and I have never even seen in UK!!   It’s pretty safe to say that I really enjoyed my hour wandering around the store, checking out every aisle and silently thanking the supermarket god for making me feel a little happier. As I said the other day, food is a really important part of any place and being able to find something I am able to eat and enjoy, will make me a lot happier.

Needless to say the rest of the afternoon was spent peeling potatoes and cooking a nice meal with some steak for when Buffy arrived home in the evening. It was my first real full meal since I have been here – meat, potatoes and veg – just what a growing boy needs!!

Wednesday – I dropped off Buffy at work again and this time went to another supermarket – Walmart!! Yeah, I know I am supposed to be travelling the world etc etc, but I need my home comforts if I am to stay somewhere, or at least base myself somewhere, so finding two good shops, both near the bus routes, for when we have to reluctantly give the BMW back next week, is a big bonus. I won’t say any more about it, except for the fact that I also stopped at the beer shop later and found Boddingtons and other decent beers there too.

My other shopping for the day was to get a printer. I can print maps, bookings and tickets at the library, but it costs a few cents per copy and means I have to go when it is open, so I decided if I could find a cheap printer I would get it. Now $30 is a cheap printer (About £20) – but it is also a wireless printer with colour and black and white cartridges over here, so I am now the proud owner of such a printer and have already printed  the 10 pages or so for my first trip away next week – its already paying for itself. It also helped me forget the terrible display by Man United who just got been beaten by Wigan – Bloody Wigan!! FFS! Buffy is at her works delayed Christmas party tonight (Yes, I did type that correctly – a delayed Christmas party) so I have a quiet evening in on my own, where I am going to do the square root of fuck all!! But we are off out for a day tomorrow, as she has the day off!!

Crabs!!

This shop makes me happy

Inside

What the fuck is this !?!


The day out was really good fun. We visited a town called Portage La Prairie, about an hour away, where there is a silo painted to look like a massive coke can. It claims to be the world’s largest (Even though it obviously has no coke in it!!) So just for the excuse of seeing that we drove out through the open prairie. Once we had taken our time to see the can and had a spot of lunch we went south to a couple of other weird roadside attractions. In the town of St Claude, they have built ‘The world’s largest smoking pipe’, as the town was originally colonised by French people from a town where pipe making was the towns’ trade. Then on the way back to Winnipeg, we stopped in Elm Creek, where we saw ‘The world’s 2nd largest Fire Hydrant’, a 30metre high monster of a hydrant and the best of the three attractions we went out to see.

The fun continued into the evening, when we drove to the north of Winnipeg to do some indoor rock climbing. It’s been a few years since I had done any of this and it showed as I couldn’t do some of the stuff that Buffy was doing – particularly the swinging from one rock to another around an overhang. She does have 15 years in age and about 10kg in weight advantage though!! Plus longer stringy arms!! Hehehe!  My arms and fingers ached by the end of the evening, but once again it was fun and a good night.

The Fire hydrant

The coke can

The pipe

Jumping the coke can

Friday was a shitty rainy day, so after driving Buffy to work, I continued another mile or so to visit The Royal Canadian Mint, to see coins being made. They make coins for loads of different countries here as shown by all the flags flying outside. I was lucky that it was a free day and I was allowed to wander the tourist corridor all alone. I love industrial stuff, so seeing the raw metal being turned into blanks and then stamped into coins was fascinating and at one point I spotted a pile of $2 in $1000 boxes. I counted at least 300 of these $1000 boxes. When I went back down to the gift shop I also saw a water pool, that people had thrown their coins into, in order to make a wish. I thought it was quite sad that the coins in there didn’t make it very far from where they were made and now sit in 2 feet of water, without ever being spent.

In the gift shop there was a security guard with a bar of gold. He told me the gold weighed 23lbs (About 10.5kg) and was worth about $600,000. It was heavy as I lifted it up but was secured to the steel table by a chain, so I had no chance to nick it. Still, it was a good visit to the mint and I enjoyed my hour there – even getting a wave off one of the bored workers as he waited for his pennies to be made.
Coins being made

The coins that didnt make it far

Gold in them there hills

Doing the chimney
                                                                               
Friday evening and I joined Buffy on a night out at a friends ‘Wedding Social’. Now this is a strange concept, even for Canada! Basically, it’s a party, put on by a couple who are getting married soon. First, the couple contacts local shops and businesses and asks for donations of prizes for a raffle type draw. Then they invite all their friends and family along to the social, at which they all buy tickets for the raffle. As usual, the draw takes place and the winners take home their prizes – But heres the rub – The money made goes towards the cost of the wedding. So it is a way to make money to pay to get married. No charities, no orphans or ill donkeys. Just lots of money going towards  a wedding. I must admit, it was a fun enough evening, the prizes were great – Joel in particular loved the fact that he won a Wii, Xbox Kinect and an ice cream maker. But it is still a bit of an alien concept for me. They couple even had their own dance, like a first dance, before the dance-floor filled up, so it was almost like a wedding reception, but months before the nuptials themselves. I may have myself a ‘travel social’ and invote a load of people so that I can make a pile of dosh to pay to go around the world – again. Anyway, like I say, it was a good night, the girls had a dance, I had a couple of cheap beers and everyone went home happy.

Saturday I went into town for wander around and had a great time – First I saw a tank being driven down the main road by the Town hall Legislative  building – Yes, A tank. It turns out there was some kind of military parade and I had just caught the end of it. I ended up wandering around the inside of the building after everyone had gone – exploring the empty corridors and taking photos of the two massive Bison statues in the entrance foyer. Its a cool building with a dome that you can look up to from the buildings lower floors all the way through to the roof itself.


After the Town Hall, I wandered home and came across a Curling Club. The door was open and so I wandered in and spent half an hour watching a few teams play in a curling tournament on the ice rink. It is actually a good game to watch, especially since one of the women playing kept falling over every-time she threw one of the stones.
Joels prizes

The dome

Bison

Haahaa amateur curling

Inside the Legislative building

Dinner was spent down the pub on Saturday and Sunday I watched the Grand Prix and football before packing my stuff to leave tomorrow and get the train to Edmonton. I have been here 2 weeks and cannot wait to get on the road again. I have itchy feet.......

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