Talking to my middle kid earlier this week, we were discussing when the next full week off school will be – and it’s not till the end of March. I reminded her that the plan is to select something from our ‘Bucket List‘ and this is what we’ll do during the holiday, to which she responded, ‘well, living here is like being on holiday all the time’.
Very true. Or at least, a winter holiday at that.
It’s been a cold January already – we’ve experienced -26 and below, and the kids still have to walk to school and everything functions as it would do normally. They go in snow pants, boots and thick winter coats with hoods up and gloves – any skin left exposed quickly feels painful, but they’ve taken it completely in their stride and enjoy tramping in the snow which is a constant companion. It’s warmed up this week and we’ve had a balmy +2 degrees which has seen the snow start to melt on the tarmac on the main roads – but never on the side streets or gardens. It’s amazing how quickly your body acclimatises to different temperatures as I’ve generally been regarded as part-reptile and will always have cold extremities at the best of times in the UK. But the last few days has seen me switch coats from my -30 winter duvet to my much thinner and somewhat frivolous jacket with a verbal comment or two along the lines of ‘it’s positively mild out today’.
The kids take their toboggans to school and make the most of the snow and ice during their breaks or ‘recess’ during the day. They have an hilarious time and the antics they get up to have me chuckling as they recall the day’s events. I can see why they regard it as a type of holiday.
On top of that are their classes. They always describe their school days as fun and yet when I see what they’ve been learning, the curriculum isn’t massively different to what they’ve had back in the UK – but ‘fun’ wasn’t a descriptive term that was prevalent. Maybe it’s the delivery. There’s a huge use of technology – everything is based on this as a platform, and an enormous amount of creative learning too. My middle kid is currently doing a project at school over the next 2 weeks to create and build a series of musical instruments from recycled materials they bring in from home. They’ve had a develop a plan and they’re now in the execution stage. It’s Blue Peter on acid – but it’s getting them to think about construction and feasibility. She’s loving it. Goodness knows how she’ll get it back home!
The amount of activities which are available and offered during the winter season is vast. There are a large number of outdoor venues across Edmonton and despite the temperatures, people are out jogging, running, power-walking and cycling. Ice skating is encouraged (although off the menu for me for the next 2 months since my last debacle ended in disaster), and is free – just turn up, get your skates on, and try not to fall over! As is skiing – another one on our list for when my bones have mended.
And getting to all these events and activities is easy. You may think that the snow impedes how much travelling can be done, but not in the slightest. The City of Edmonton does an exceptional job of clearing roads and thoroughfares – obviously concentrating on the main artery roads when we have a heavy snowfall, and each area of the city has a specific day of the week for ‘snow blading’ – clearing and maintaining the side roads in that area down to 5cm above the tarmac level. Refuse gets collected as normal, and the recycling which is encouraged is superb – compared to what we’ve been used to back home. Nothing stops and if anything, cranks up a gear.
There’s a wider selection of food ingredients available than I expected – and some wonderful independent shops which bake their own breads, delicatessens for meats and a range of authentic spices which has seen me emulating some pretty decent curries. The kids are enjoying the variety and different ‘treats’ which make it into their lunch boxes each day.
We’ve got all the benefits of living in a new place, different views and way life, but with our own stuff (or at least most of it) around us. Social media means we’re in touch with friends and family much the same as we would be if we were back home – and in some cases, we now see more of – courtesy of Facetime and Skype! The kids are starting to get party invites so the diary is filling up, and we’re even off to watch a British Pantomime this Saturday evening at a local theatre put on by a British ex-pat amateur dramatic society.
Oh no you’re not ……. oh, yes we are ….
Holiday? Life is what you make it and if it can feel like one for most of the time, then why not.