There’s a reptile in flight ….

img_9324I think I was a reptile in a past-life.  Usually in a constant state of seeking to nudge up the house thermostat in a bid for a warmer temperature and a place to defrost my hands and feet, I can normally be found nestled under several layers of clothing, with thermal socks and gloves that only a heat-seeking missile would be attracted to.  Ironic then, that I find myself living in a Winter City where temperatures are sub-zero for at least 3 to 4 months of the year.

There’s only two ways to go in such a climate – either embrace the frozen north, or hibernate; only to reappear when the snow has subsided and we start to climb into the positive temperature range around April/May time.  You may be reading this assuming I’m the latter ….. but no.  Despite my cold-blooded tendencies, I do enjoy the winter activities and especially, a spot of skiing – either downhill or cross-country.  Both are readily available in Edmonton, and working in my favour for the cross-country is the fact that Alberta is a prairie-state and literally, as flat as a pancake.  It certainly makes for a less arduous (and by definition, much more fun) way to experience the sport with the avoidance of any hills or steep terrain which would have me hyperventilating with effort and collapsing with sheer exhaustion.  img_0046But I do miss my mountain fix.  It’s one of the scenic aspects I miss most about living in the UK.  That said, Jasper, and the Canadian Rockies are a mere 3.5 hrs drive to the West and are mountainously majestic on a monumental scale.  We’re lucky that we can take a quick trip there for a weekend, get my mountain fix, and attempt the downhill skiing of the Marmot Basin.  With 86 runs, the longest high speed quad-chair in the Canadian Rockies, and views to die for, it’s a spectacular place to ski.  And this past weekend, we did just that.marmot-basinAll the family have their own equipment, and during the past two Winters we’ve lived in Canada, everyone has gradually picked up the skills and technique to get them from the top of a slope, down to the bottom – hopefully, without any mishaps en route.  Even my youngest kid who is now 7, will happily throw herself down the more gradual terrains – which means the whole family can ski together.  My middle kid is the risk-taker, and will seek out every treacherous route in a bid to experience moments of sheer terror with shrieks of hysteria.  Living on the edge is definitely one of her life philosophies ….

Beset with a few challenges including my husband having the navigational prowess of a lemon, my middle kid demonstrating a strong magnetic draw to any dare-devil activity, and my youngest kid being solely focused on remaining upright; I adopt the role of chief navigator and assume responsibility for making sure that whatever chair lift we go up, there’s a route back down that doesn’t require the mastery level of a black diamond.  With the trail-blazing abilities of a bloodhound, I’m relied upon to traverse the various routes down the mountain, identifying a variant path each time from the one before, until we all safely arrive with aching limbs and tired muscles to the awaiting chairlifts at the bottom  – only to be whisked into the heavens such that the cycle can repeat itself yet again.img_9355After a few hours, confidence was high and I decided to inject some novelty, proposing we take a chairlift towards the top of the mountain rather than focusing on the middle and lower terrains.  As we ascended, the views were spectacular and the scenery stunning.  With my attention somewhat distracted, I had failed to notice the need for a rapid exit at the top of the lift as the chairs quickly gained height before flipping around a spindle and returning back to the bottom.  Graciously hesitating at the top to let my kids off first, was my undoing.  I missed the optimum point of departure – and only when the chair started to pick up speed and the ground quickly fell away did I realise a hastier exit was required.  The prosaic lines of the immortal song, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go Now’, reverberated through my head – and a nanosecond split decision saw me adopting an ‘Eddie the Eagle’ approach to descent as I ‘launched’ myself off the chair.goat in flightA ‘Clash’ it certainly was.  Imagining it to be more graciously executed than the reality, I felt I had it perfectly controlled until the landing.  Maybe it was the knees, or even my posture that let me down, but my husband later recounted the moment when he witnessed the ‘splat’ as I hit the ground and arrived unceremoniously in a heap at his skis.  Even the best of us, have our odd moments of misadventure and I’m still chuckling about the incident a week later – whilst nursing a rather large bruise that has managed to feature all the colours of the rainbow.  The bruise has managed to generate enough heat to keep my reptile-like tendencies at bay, retaining warmth in my hands and feet.  I can’t help but think it’s far easier just to notch up the thermostat …. ūüôā

 

Google images supplied the cartoon in today’s blog, the rest have been photogenically captured by ‘goat and kids’

Slip sliding away ….

Roller skatingWhen I was a teenager, the biggest draw on a Saturday afternoon was to the roller skating rinks in either Rochdale or Bolton – a good 30 minutes drive away from where we used to live in North-West England.  They were popular hotspots, with the latest 80’s music blaring out through worn-out speakers and dimly lit rinks illuminated with flashing disco lights.  We’d attempt to look proficient and adept on wheels, always believing we were more ‘hip and trendy’ than we actually probably looked.  Roll forward 30 years, and as I’d always been ‘competent’ on roller skates, (i.e. could stand and move forward in an upright position), it was with an air of self-confidence and blind optimism that I felt my ability to adapt to moving on ice would be a seamless transition.  How wrong I was.  For those who remember our first Winter in Canada just over 2 years ago, my inaugural attempt to ice-skate ended within the first 2 minutes and resulted in broken bones and a trip to the local A&E.  Ice skating is clearly harder than it looks ……

Screen-shot-2013-12-07-at-5.00.34-PMGiven my newfound admiration for anyone who can demonstrate the ability to remain vertical on ice whilst wearing ice skates (or any type of footwear to be honest), I was in complete awe when we went to watch our very first ice hockey match between the Edmonton Oil Kings and Saskatoon Blades last week.  Edmonton has just splashed out $600m on a new world-class arena, Rogers Place, which only opened in September after 3 years in development, and is sited in the heart of downtown.  It’s an impressive building and will act as the new home to the Edmonton ‘Oilers’ as well as playing host as a major concert venue for touring acts – we get some big names appearing up here in the freezing North, you know ūüôā

Rogers PlaceI’ll admit here and now, that my knowledge of ice hockey is absolutely zilch other than it’s split into 3 periods of 20 minutes, with a 15 minute break separating each one.  I don’t know about the players, but I needed a break to recover after watching each period.  You can’t fail to be impressed with the speed by which the players move around the ice along with their short reaction times chasing a ‘puck’ which seemingly moves at the speed of light.  By the time I’d spotted where the puck had gone, it was then down the other side of the rink – and I got the decided impression that I was consistently 3 or 4 seconds behind where the game was upto throughout the entire duration of the match (my husband would probably argue there’s usually a few seconds delay in me with most things in life ;-).

And it’s violent too.  You can see why they need so much protection gear as the speed and ferocity with which they bash each other against the sides of the rink prompted an audible gasp from the audience and made me wince on several occasions.  Clearly tensions were running high as at various junctures, a fight broke out between players who would then throw their headgear off and chuck a punch (or 2) at each other before the referees stepped in and sentenced them to the ‘sin bin’.  Clearly there are rules and guidelines of which I know nothing, but it makes for engrossing watching when it’s happening right in front of you.  Much better than watching it on the tv …..

2016-11-10-18-45-06I’m a convert.  Audience participation is encouraged throughout – plus the obligatory food stands selling hot dog and fries are a must.  We loved it.   It was a great night out and we’d definitely go and watch another game.  It’s a far cry from roller skating in Rochdale all those years ago.  Mind you, the outdoor ice rinks are starting to open here for the winter season and I’m sure with a bit more practice I can stay on my feet for at least 5 minutes this year!  Better get those skates on and start slip sliding away …. ūüôā

Thanks as ever to the majority of pics in today’s blog taken from google images …

A taste of things to come …. ???

Edmonton fall

Not only have the temperatures plummeted below freezing for the best part of the last 2 weeks, but we’ve also had our first few snow dumps unseasonably early. ¬†It may only be¬†mid¬†October, but life in the most northerly city across North America has had us hunting out our woolies, gloves, hats, scarves and snow pants much earlier than usual. ¬†Not only that, tools have had to be commissioned and the snow shovel has been pressed into service¬†to remove the accumulation of snow on the drive and pavement – serious stuff indeed. ¬†Maybe it’s¬†a freak weather event which¬†with any luck, may¬†disappear later this week – but there’s no escaping the certainty that¬†by the middle of next month it’ll be here to stay and won’t disappear till next May. ¬†Brrrrr ……..

Canada white house

On the plus side, the snow slopes are getting excited. ¬†Last year, everything had to be delayed by a few weeks as the snow was later than usual – this year, Mother Nature is making up for it and with this early blast there may be chance to get some early season skiing or cross-country skiing underway. Let’s hope so.

Last week, in amidst all this excitement, Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving – our second one since our arrival. ¬†A year ago, I embraced the festivities with attempting to emulate a ‘typical’ Canadian thanksgiving meal – roast turkey and all the trimmings. ¬†For those that remember, (and should you wish to relive the event, click here), we discovered to our detriment that a dish entitled ‘candied yams’ which we took to be dessert, should’ve actually been an accompaniment to the savoury main course. ¬†We’ve mastered many elements to living in Canada, but this whole mixing of savoury and sweet together has us foxed each and every time. ¬†With this in mind, I thought we’d better play safe so asked my many Canadian friends for a dessert recommendation. ¬†‘Pumpkin Pie’ was the resounding cry – so procure one I did.ThanksgivingNow imagine the scene ….. it’s snowing outside, we’re 4cm deep in snow and are heartily¬†enjoying our roast dinner. ¬† To be honest, it was only the lack of ‘Jingle Bells’ resonating from the speakers and you would’ve been mistaken for thinking it¬†Christmas dinner. ¬†Anyhow, back to dessert ….. husband and kids all declared their enthusiasm to try the pumpkin pie, and were looking forward to this with anticipation. ¬†Even the cat appeared from her bed – lacking in some of her senses now she’s at the ripe old age of 21, but her sense of smell is still functioning perfectly and the lure of the roast cooking was¬†obviously too much for even her to ignore. ¬†Main course consumed, and the dessert¬†was brought out with great ceremony – husband & I even poured a glass of Canadian ice wine to sample in its honour.Pumpkin Pie

There’s a silence that often prevails after a dessert is served – everyone heads-down, maximising their delight, savouring the sweetness and aroma, wishing it would never end. ¬†Well, after the first mouthful was consumed, the stunned¬†silence epitomised the collective feeling about the dessert choice and we wished it would end. ¬†And end quickly. Unilaterally, (once we’d struggled to swallow our first mouthful), and very similar to the current US Presidential Elections, we were challenged¬†to find the merest glimpse of positive endorsement that would see this dish as a preferred candidate for future events, and¬†were grasping at the smallest elements of the pie which were least repellant. ¬†It was a traversy. ¬†To say there was immense disappointment, was¬†an understatement. ¬†We shall be leaving the delicacy to my Canadian friends to consume in entirety in future.

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Our track record with pumpkins has not been a resounding success so on a positive note, our future use of¬†them¬†will be exclusively¬†as decorated outdoor exhibits during Halloween …. ¬† mwah ha ha …..

ūüôā

Thanks as ever to google images for some of the pics in today’s blog …

Spring has sprung??

Canada Geese

Do you know what the collective noun for geese is? ¬†I always thought it was a ‘gaggle’, but listening to Canadian radio earlier this week I find out that there are several different collective terms for geese – all dependent on what the geese are doing at the time. ¬†For example, if geese are on the ground, then quite rightly, they’re often described as a ‘gaggle’, ‘herd’ or ‘flock’. ¬†But if they’re in flight, then it’s either a ‘wedge’ or ‘skein’. ¬†I never knew that till this week. ¬†It got me wondering how geese have managed to get to the high echelons of¬†having so many descriptive terms? ¬†I did an internet search to see how many collective terms are used to describe the joys of having kids – and found a complete dearth. ¬†There’s many terms I’d use to describe my 3 kids – many of which wouldn’t always be complimentary …..

Anyhow. ¬†This all came about as Canada Geese are arriving back in Edmonton (maybe it was a slow news day as it was the key topic of conversation on the radio) with¬†‘wedges’ being¬†spotted in full formation flying in from goodness knows where. ¬†Comes to something when even the Canadian Geese migrate away from here over the winter …. maybe there’s a message in there somewhere? ¬†Being upbeat, it’s obviously a sign that the worst of the weather is over and a lot of our snow is finally melting away after months of being surrounded in a blanket of ‘whiteness’. ¬†I love the snow and have really enjoyed getting active with the skiing this season, but it’s hard to describe the feeling of finally seeing grass in your front and back lawn slowly re-appearing. ¬†Optimism, I think. ¬†That said, most of the lakes are still completely frozen so we’ve a little while to go as yet. ¬†I’ll have to temper my excitement. ¬†And it’s March already …..

Arctic-Hare

Not surprisingly, the grass isn’t looking that great. ¬†Mind you, if I’d been covered with over a foot of snow for the best part of 4 months, I’d be looking rather worse for wear too. ¬†Even the Arctic Hare that visits our back garden and ‘stops over’ occasionally under the decking, is rather at a loss. ¬†His fur is still pure white so he’s standing out like a belisha beacon until his coat changes to the summer brown colour.

One of the things I miss most about being in the UK, is the bulbs that start appearing and the daffodils bringing bright colours ready for St David’s Day in early March. ¬†Easter is always a good time to get out in the garden and see some colour and new growth. ¬†Not in Edmonton. ¬†The rule of thumb seems to be to hang on in there till May as the ground is still solid and heavy frosts appear during the night, plus not to forget the occasional snowstorm that can bring a full covering back again instantly. ¬†Talking of which, I think that’s the forecast for this evening. ¬†Oh well ……

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We took a jaunt across to Jasper last weekend. ¬†We haven’t been there at this time of year, and whilst the mountain valleys are free of snow, as you start to climb the mountains you suddenly hit the snow-line and the snow depth that still remains is huge. ¬†So much so, that it makes you wonder how long it will¬†take to fully thaw. ¬†The views across the mountains and lakes are spectacular though. ¬†You alternate from being in early Spring down in the valley, to a ‘Narnia-like’ winter experience where the snow even on the conifer branches is 5 inches thick – it’s quite surreal.

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And quiet. ¬†I’ve never experienced ‘quietness’ quite like it when you’re in the mountains. ¬†Complete nothingness. ¬†Absolute silence. ¬†And still. ¬†The only sounds are from our feet tramping through the thick snow. ¬†I was almost expecting Mr Timnus (namely, James McAvoy from the Chronicles of Narnia films), to appear from behind a snow-covered tree. ¬†Failing that, I had hoped we may spot some wild animals in the forests and near the lakes, but these I suspect, were wisely remaining hidden due to our 3 kids who were grudgingly trudging along with us. ¬†I was sorely tempted at several points to feed one of them to any animals brave enough to put in an appearance but in the end we had to compromise on bringing them back home with us (the kids that is – not the wild animals), after we plunged the oldest kid into 3 feet of snow when she ‘helpfully’ doused her youngest sister with a vast amount of snow down the inside of her coat. ¬†We saw the funny side, but it took several hours before comedy and even the smallest hint of humour was felt¬†by the kids themselves…..

The joys of having kids so helpfully brought to mind. ¬†It got me back to thinking of collective nouns again ….. ¬†ūüôā

Give it a shot … ?

Photography

When I was little, my Dad used to spend many hours upstairs in the attic which he’d converted to a small office. ¬†There were two items which used to draw my attention – one was a Hornby train track which he’d set up and the miniature trains would¬†run around the track, stopping at the mini stations. ¬†It was great fun and probably inspired more by Ivor the Engine rather than Thomas the Tank Engine ……

Anyhow, the second attraction was that he would convert the attic to a dark room, for processing the negatives from his camera. ¬†I remember there¬†being¬†an abundance of different chemicals and a highly complex process which had to be undertaken in aspiring to produce the perfect print. ¬†I used to help out and would be in charge of switching on and off the red ‘safelight’ – and watched in awe as the pictures slowly emerged onto the photographic paper. ¬†I remember having to ‘hang’ the damp photos up on a small washing line so they could dry. ¬†You’ve got to admit, technology has certainly speeded the entire process up these days, but there’s something more authentic and unique when the technique to produce them was so variable and long-winded.

I’ve always enjoyed taking pics but never really put more thought into it. ¬†My back-catalogue of pics pre-Canada has largely been dominated by the kids in all manner of British places and undertaking an array of past-times. ¬†Interesting for me to look back on and remember the events, but less so for others!

Since arriving in Canada, I’ve found a new sense of inspiration in the natural landscape. ¬†I have no photographic technical knowledge whatsoever but can appreciate inspirational shots. ¬†I also have a personality trait which lacks patience – so taking pics immediately and ‘in the moment’ is more my style along with devoting¬†total¬†reliance on the sheer brilliance of the automatic camera built into my iPhone.

A friend recently challenged me to post a photograph of nature – online, every day, for 7 days. ¬†I wasn’t sure whether I was cut out for the task, but gave it and go, and thought I’d share these with you – along with details of where they were taken……… enjoy ūüôā

Day 1: There’s an abundance of red berries as you walk through the River Valley in Edmonton which are striking against the predominantly white snowscape and bare-branched trees. ¬†I love the colour contrast and this was taken in the grounds of the Muttart Conservatory – rather like a small ‘Eden’ project here in Edmonton, and definitely worth a visit.

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Day 2: There’s a walking trail called the ‘River Loop’ which takes you around Fort Edmonton park. ¬†Probably just under 3 miles in length, it’s a popular walking route of mine – fairly flat and easy too, for kids to tramp along. ¬†I’ve spotted the occasional coyote along it in the past plus you get to see parts of Fort Edmonton as you walk along. I thought I’d test out a black & white shot …

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Day 3: Also taken along the River Valley but looking towards the Fort Edmonton footbridge over the North Saskatchewan River. ¬†I’m constantly fascinated that it can freeze completely over …

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Day 4: Autumn (or ‘Fall’ as it’s referred to over here), is my favourite season by far for the abundance of colours which are simply stunning. ¬†This next shot I took back in September walking along the Whitemud Park North trail. ¬†We visited ‘New England’ in the Fall several years ago and I think this is equally as spectacular in colour with the ranges of yellows, oranges and reds set against the crystal clear blue sky. ¬†Life can’t get much better than this surely?

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Day 5: There are plenty of bridges cutting across the North Saskatchewan River, all of which are subtly different in style. ¬†I’ve taken lots of pics of many of these, but this next one was a footbridge across a river estuary leading into the North Saskatchewan. ¬†I love the angles and shadows – and whilst this was taken mid-day in Winter, it has something compelling about it.

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Day 6: One of our favourite places we’ve visited whilst being in Canada is Canmore, just south of Banff in the Canadian Rockies. ¬†Along with being home to the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company (highly recommended for any beer-lovers out there), it also has stunning scenery. ¬†This pic I took on a weekend trip when my parents visited last Summer, on a walk up to Spray Lakes just past the Canmore Nordic Centre. ¬†It was particularly notable, as we were obliged to carry bear spray with us and the kids were constantly wondering whether they would out-run grandma should one appear.

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Day 7: My final submission. Taken last Spring, this is Lac Beauvert just outside the Jasper Park Lodge in Jasper. ¬†I can’t begin to describe how peaceful and serene the place is, and the mirror-image reflections in the water, with the turquoise colours and typically blue skies, are staggeringly beautiful.

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Nature at it’s best. ¬†It just goes to show, that as with most things in life, it’s worth taking a shot …. ūüôā

Just give us a push …

cross-country-skiing

I’ve been out and procured some cross-country skiing equipment over the last week – part of an early birthday present and also, if I didn’t do it soon, I’d miss the brilliant snow conditions that are in Edmonton at the moment. ¬†Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking days or weeks before the snow disappears. ¬†No – we’re in it for the long haul and it won’t be probably till April before¬†we get to see glimpses of grass underneath the blankets of whiteness that surround us currently. ¬†That said, there’s no time like the present, and after my brief ‘trial’ just before Christmas, I’ve been keen to try the sport and get out in the River Valley and enjoy it.

The equipment is slightly different. ¬†For those familiar with downhill skiing and having to prise your feet into the¬†solid, rigid ski boots, then you’re in for a treat with cross-country skiing. The boots are wonderfully comfy, rather like wearing¬†a pair of flexible slippers on your trotters – and clip into your skis just at the tip of the toe, leaving your ankle free to move up and away from the ski itself. ¬†This is great as it enables you to really push-off and ‘skate’ through the snow. ¬†The skis themselves are much narrower and significantly lighter than downhill skis, with¬†the poles much taller. ¬†There’s a whole industry surrounding waxing underneath the skis – to provide grip and glide – and knowing the difference and what to use, and when, seems to be riddled with¬†complexity to me as a complete novice. ¬†I’ve copped out and gone for ‘waxless’ skis ¬†– and so far, these are working really well and I’ve at least remained upright. ¬†Success!

equipment

I’ve mentioned in numerous blogs over the year that the City of Edmonton certainly embraces and encourages activity – providing an amazing number of activities and sports from young to old. ¬†Cross country skiing is no different, and there are a number of park locations in the city which are purposely groomed and maintained for people to purely turn up and have a go.

One of the other advantages of living in Edmonton is that rather like living in Cheshire, England – it’s extremely flat, albeit much drier than it seems to be over the other side of the pond. ¬†This means that for the majority of cross-country skiing opportunities, there may be minor inclines and small sections of downhill, but for the most part – it’s flat. ¬†Not challenging for those wanting to adopt it as a serious sport, but for the recreational user and for me, it’s proving a hit. I can tell though, that getting up minor inclines needs more finesse on my part – I’m doing a good impression of a dilapidated duck and it’s been pure luck I haven’t ended up in a heap back at the base of the climb. ¬†Good job there’s nobody filming my exploits – you’d have ‘cine-gold’ to blackmail me with!

cross country skiing

Some circuits are based on or around golf courses – you can imagine there’s not much call for golf when everything is covered in snow and it’s sub-zero. ¬†So, these circuits are groomed and often take you round the edges of the courses, through the trees and along the river. ¬†It’s so quiet too – you wouldn’t know you were in the centre of the city.

I had to chuckle last week¬†as I embarked on my first attempt at cross-country skiing with my newly acquired equipment. ¬†As I was getting my boots and skis on, a chap in the next vehicle was doing likewise and remarked on how nice my skis were. ¬†Not wanting to let on that I’d¬†never used them in earnest as yet, I simply shouted back, ‘yes, they’re extremely light’. ¬†He then enquired as to which direction around the track is usually adopted – and luckily, as I’d been just once before, I could say with a confident sweep of the arm, ‘oh, we always go this way’………..and with that, off he skied. ¬†Just goes to show, do it with confidence and nobody is any the wiser ūüôā

Cross country skiing

Yesterday, I took a friend of mine around one of the skiing tracks. ¬†It was a beautiful day – blue skies, sunshine and temperatures that were verging on freezing point, ie. mild! ¬†The scenery was spectacular, and the skiing wonderfully crisp, it’s an utter joy to be out and experiencing it. ¬†We even spotted a family of 3 coyotes quietly enjoying the sunshine nestled underneath a conifer as we passed only 10 feet by. ¬†I haven’t had any disasters as yet, and despite being hard work on your muscles, it’s highly aerobic and doesn’t take long before the sweat is dripping and you begin to wonder whether all the layers of clothes may have been overkill. ¬† I’m enjoying it, and boy, do you feel much better mentally just having got out there and given it a go.

I wonder what’ll be next!! ¬†ūüôā

Thanks to google images for this week’s pics! ¬†Hard to take pics when you’re travelling at speed …..

Seasons Greetings from the cold north!

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It’s been a bit of a chilly week here in Edmonton. ¬†Temperatures are usually around -4 to -6 for this time of year, but this week we’ve had the delights of -19 and at one point, -24. ¬†Now I know it’s going to get a lot colder as we move into the New Year, but still – boy, is it a bit brisk.

On the last day of school, it was pyjama day so all 3 kids trampled off to school with their PJ’s on underneath ski pants, boots, thermal coats, hats, gloves and scarves. ¬†It was so cold that they didn’t even get ‘recess’ – which given the scant nature of their PJ’s, I was somewhat relieved. ¬†That said, there’s no doubt about it – every year it’s a white christmas here, and it certainly feels it with the snow, the ice, the cold, and the numerous christmas decorations. ¬†Now talking of which …..

Once we pass Halloween, it seems to be a ‘free for all’ on the Christmas decorations front. ¬†With the dark early nights, cold temperatures, and snow all around, the colour from the displays definitely brightens things up as you drive through the City and residential streets. ¬†We’ve even joined in, and have added to our range of Christmas cheer this year in the form of a moose. ¬† No, not a real one, but standing on our decking about the size of a Shetland Pony, beaming out white Christmas lights. ¬†¬†Ho, ho, ho …..

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Ever wondered about the definition of a ‘white’ christmas? ¬†Well, I know in England it’s determined by the UK¬†Met Office who only require¬†one snowflake to be observed falling in the 24 hours of Christmas Day¬†somewhere in the UK – whether or not a single snowflake melts before it hits the ground. ¬†I remember every year just wishing for a ‘White’ Christmas to be declared – but they’ve been few and far between and seemingly unlikely this year too.

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It’s a different story here in Edmonton. ¬†A ‘white’ christmas is one where there is at least 2cm of snow on the ground at 7am on Christmas morning. ¬†This year (and I assume each and every year), we’re safe on that score. ¬†Now, this doesn’t invoke a sense of expectation or excitement when the prospect of snow is somewhat a ‘given’, so there’s an additional¬†element built on top as to what constitutes a ‘perfect’ Christmas? ¬†Any ideas? ¬†Well, the formal definition is that along with the criteria being satisfied to declare a ‘white’ christmas, snow needs to be falling at the same time ….. a-ha! ¬†Let’s see if we’re in luck this year then …..

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Now, on the topic of¬†frozen ice….. Edmonton is home to a huge Ice Castle currently under construction in Hawrelak Park, a beautiful location down in the River Valley. ¬†Billed as the largest ice structure in North America, once completed, it’s going to be open to the public and along with the castle itself, will also include¬†slides, waterfalls, tunnels and caves which you can explore. ¬†Every metre of the castle is made up of at least 400 icicles which have been grown from over 3km of water sprinklers. ¬†We’re booked to explore it in early February so the kids are extremely excited about going inside. ¬†Here’s a pic amidst ongoing construction as we walked past earlier today …..

2015-12-24 11.41.52Edmonton isn’t called the ‘winter city’ for nothing. ¬†Along with opportunities for ice and snow sports during the day, there are lots of shows to go and see in the winter evenings. ¬†We’ve been on numerous excursions this week, ranging from the ‘Singing Christmas Tree’ show (brilliantly light entertainment and it was, literally, a choir nestled amongst lights and tiers resembling a Christmas tree), the “Festival of Lights’ at the local zoo (only the snow leopard and reindeers were out and about that night), the¬†theatre¬†play – ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens and excellently performed by a professional cast in a ¬†beautiful theatre, followed by the British panto, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ at Fort Edmonton which was in 1920’s style. ¬†Quite a cultural and eclectic mix of events and activities over the past few weeks – but great fun and well worth seeking out and visiting. ¬†The challenge will be maintaining the momentum and managing expectations for Christmas in Edmonton next year!!

So, as it starts to get dark here on Christmas Eve, I’m off to pour myself a glass and toast to everyone’s good health. ¬†All that remains on this cold and snowy evening, is to¬†wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year ūüôā

Christmas goat

Final photo courtesy of google images …