Thursday, 27 December 2007

A Canadian Christmas

So our first Canadian Christmas went very well. We spent the day at Sunshine Village skiing and snow boarding. Lots of the skiiers had swapped helmets for santa hats, but I thought that might be tempting fate on my third day on the slopes!

Although we were both booked for a full day of tuition, we left after lunch (pasta!) and came home to open presents and phone the UK. Then in the evening we had a fantastic Christmas buffet at the Raddison hotel in Canmore ($25 for 4 courses!)

We were back at Sunshine yesterday and I went down a black run which was covered in about 3 foot of powder! Great fun. Of course I wasn't able to stay upright for most of it, but at least it was a soft landing.

Today I'm having a day off and letting my aching body recover, but Jim has gone back for more! So I joined a couple of Ralston wives for a sleigh ride around Lake Louise. The last time we were in Lake Louise less than 3 months ago there was no snow, this time, the lake was completely frozen. There was an ice castle and a skating rink!

Monday, 24 December 2007

Happy Christmas...Eve

Quick update from us before the inevitable smug posting showing photos of us on the ski slopes on Christmas Day... We've finally been on the Banff Gondola, after being well and truly shown up by the Other BATUS Bloggers (aka the Tingeys) who have been in Canada less time than us and have a larger family and have now been on the gondola twice! We went up Sulphur Mountain on Sunday when it was bloomin' freezing and we could barely stand on the observation deck for long enough to take a photo! Jim says his North American experience is now complete after meeting a local at the top called 'Randy' !

We followed this up with a slightly confused Alpine/Rocky lunch of cheese fondue followed by Buffalo burger!

Today it was back to Sunshine Village for my first day of board school whilst Jim joined some Ralstonites on a week long ski course. It was a vast improvement on our last trip, not least of all because it was 20c warmer! Only -7c this time!

That's it from us today. We're having an early night so we can be up early to phone the UK on Christmas Day! Whatever you are up to tomorrow, have a great one!

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Father Christmas visits Ralston

We arrived at the condo in Canmore last night, but before we left I had a rather unique photo opportunity as Father Christmas flew in to visit the children at Ralston School in a Gazelle helicopter (obviously the reindeer were resting ahead of their big day!)

We had a good journey up to the mountains only slightly delayed after we got stuck in our first snow drift (outside our house) and had to be towed out (with our other car!)

The condo is fantastic and we've already got the Christmas tree up. We're having a weekend chilling out and will be hitting the ski slopes on Christmas Eve. Jim's pre-booked for a week's skiing and I'll probably spend a couple of days in board school and then see how it goes.

The free wifi is a God send and we've already got good use out of it by using Skype to call friends in Germany and the UK.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Cup of tea, mince pies and Cranford

I had a nice afternoon today enjoying some things that had arrived in the post at long last!

First of all our latest delivery of UK TV programmes from my parents. Normally they arrive about 4 days after they post them, but this latest batch was slowed down by the volume of Christmas post and took 2 and a half weeks to get here, which is a long time to wait between episodes of Cranford!

Secondly we had a delivery from British Cornershop... Brillo pads, baked beans, Branston pickle, salad cream and tea bags (it's funny what you miss!) and although I had forgotten to order some mince pies, I did a deal with one of the wives who had bought several boxes.

Things are starting to get very quiet in the village. Jim and the rest of the staff at the base finished work today, but I'm still in the office till Friday. Far from winding down, we've had one of the busiest weeks of the year, so I'm looking forward to heading up to Canmore on Friday!

Monday, 17 December 2007

What more winter sports kit?

Now that we have exhausted the list of ice hockey purchases (I've even got a lace tightener and special hockey tape that you wrap round your socks) the time has come to equip ourselves for the ski slopes...

As you will recall, although Jim is a seasoned skiier, I've gone over to the "dark side" and decided to learn snow boarding. Partly because it looks cooler and partly because the boots are a million times more comfortable. (Really they are like trainers... lovely!)

Prior to my very short episode in ski school a week ago, Jim had made me buy ski boots "because otherwise you won't be comfortable and you'll hate it" (!!) Fortunately Ben, the man who runs the ski shop in town is fantastic and not only swapped my worn ski boots for new boarding boots, but more or less threw in a second hand board too (see left!) so now we are more or less ready for Christmas week in the Rockies!

The snow board isn't the only second hand thing we've recently acquired. Jim is very keen to get a dog and has been suggesting I have a cat too (to warm me up to the idea of a dog I think!) I didn't think it was right for us to take on a kitten when we're moving again in 18 months, but I decided that if a 'village cat' needed a home I'd consider it. In the Falklands (and here to a lesser degree) because of the lengthy journeys pets have to make, they often change owners rather than locations, which seems much fairer on the animal.

This morning one of the wives came into BFBS looking for a new home for a 'village cat', I was keen, but we had one small hurdle, we needed official approval from the housing department to have a pet (an often lengthy process!) so imagine our surprise when we came home and found a letter in our mail box announcing our "application to keep a pet had been approved" - especially considering we'd never applied for it!

We'll be inheriting the cat, Blacky, after the Christmas break.... the situation with the dog remains a subject of debate! :-)

As for Christmas... Jim's finishing work on Wednesday and my last day is Friday. Then we'll be spending 12 nights in Canmore staying in a condo at the Falcon Crest. Most of the village are decamping to Canmore, so we'll have most of our friends staying nearby too.

There's free wifi access though... so we'll keep the blog updated!

Monday, 10 December 2007


To the left is the view from the condo we stayed in over the weekend. We drove up to Canmore on Friday (about three and a half hours) and spent Saturday at Sunshine Village a local ski resort.

I've never been on a ski slope in any sort of capacity, so it was a totally new experience for me. I must admit I was rather put off the whole thing when we parked at the base of the mountain and it was -26c!

I thought it was going to be that cold all day, but fortunately it was 10c warmer at the peak and the sun was shining!

Jim left me in ski school, which I quit at lunchtime! I traded my hired skis for a snowboard which was much more fun. That's me on the right in the red ski jacket trying to get to grips with it. Fortunately the store I bought my ski boots from have agreed to swap them for snowboarding boots.

Yesterday we went to the Banff hot springs, which I had had a rather romantic image of in my head. I was a bit disappointed to discover it wasn't a steaming natural looking rock pool surrounded by snow, but an outside pool full of Japanese tourists! We still went in anyway and it was a little surreal sitting in water that was 39c whilst water droplets on your hair were freezing in the -10c air!

We drove back this morning through snow flurries on the Trans Can and discovered Ralston had had several more inches of the stuff over the weekend. It gets to the point where the only way you can notice there's been more is that the front path needs clearing again!

Thursday, 6 December 2007

More snow

I thought I'd better pop in for a quick update before we head off to the Rockies for the weekend. Last Friday we hosted our first Murder Mystery party, a couple of people in the village have done them recently and raved about the results, so not needing much encouragement we decide to follow suit and bought the kit!

Ours was set in 1848 and our guests were great, turning up in some fantastic outfits and throwing themselves into character as soon as they arrived. We borrowed the mess silver and even had a "body" (actually just some cleverly placed Halloween accessories and some pillows!)

As everyone had said we would, we laughed all evening and only one person managed to guess the murderer, which was immaterial after a few drinks!

Jim and I put together our outfits with the help of a fantastic store in Medicine Hat called Value Village, which is a warehouse size charity shop, selling everything from furniture to jewellry. Worth pointing out though, that Jim's yellow cords did not come from Value Village! He bought them at a Ralph Lauren store in Holland!!

We have had snow on the ground for a week now and yesterday we had a fresh batch delivered. It deluged on the village and everywhere now looks like it is covered in a thick luxurious coating of white foam! The snow here is very different to Europe, very dry and powdery and we don't get any horrible slush at the side of the road. It's useless for making snow men because it refuses to stick together, but very beautiful!

After my mention of our rabbits in the last blog entry, I thought you'd like to see one, I took this photo this afternoon. It's amazing how close they let you get! Mind you he's probably decided we are rather benign since we started giving him rabbit food when it snowed! :-)

So that's it for this week, tomorrow we're driving up to Canmore to stay in the BATUS "condo" for the weekend.

I'll be having my first skiing lesson on Saturday (with high expectations from Jim!) and we're going to the Banff hot springs on Sunday which should be an amazing experience in the snow!

Friday, 30 November 2007

Frozen Ralston

The temperature continues to drop in the village this week. It was -24c when I walked to work yesterday, but rather beautiful, lots of crisp white snow on the ground and the trees were covered in frost.

I took some photos of the trees outside our office, but had to keep coming inside every 10 minutes warm up. I don't know how anything survives weather like this. We have a a couple of rabbits in the garden living under our shed which haven't hibernated. I have no idea how they keep warm or what they eat!

You can see more photos of Ralston in the snow by clicking here

Tuesday, 27 November 2007 last!

The last week of November and at long last the snow has arrived in Canada! It was snowing when I got up this morning, has been snowing all day and is forecast to snow all night.

It's -10c, but closer to -25c with the wind chill. The kids looked hillarious walking to the school this morning, they had so much kit on. One of our friends dressed their 18 month old up in the snow kit for the first time and when they stepped away, she was so top heavy that she fell over backwards!

Anyway, a little bit of video for you of the scene in the village this lunchtime...

Monday, 26 November 2007

It's cold!

Another update from the very cold Albertan prairie... The daytime high today was -10c. The photo shows the thermometer on our bedroom window. The first of many pictures I'll be taking of it this winter I should think!

As I write the clouds outside are full of snow and we have flurries forecast tonight, tomorrow and Tuesday night, so we might finally be about to see our first signs of a proper Canadian winter!

Jim was busy yesterday getting the outside of the house ready for Christmas. We inherited his predecessors Christmas lights, so we were running out of excuses for being one of the few houses in the village not to put on a festive display. I had the job of holding the step ladder, which at -15c was a very cold job! I wore two coats to keep warm!

We also bought some ski boots for me this weekend. We're skiing for a week over Christmas and we plan to go up to the Rockies for at least one weekend before then, so I needed to get the kit. I was quite pleased that the last pair of half price boots were my size... it was almost meant to be!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

MIP & Elkwater

Another busy week in the village. On Wednesday night I was named Most Improved Player after our hockey match. Jim's been getting abuse from all the wives because I mentioned on air that he'd said (all be it tounge in cheek) that they'd "only done it to keep your interest up". Joking aside though, it's done the trick, I'm rather hooked on it and a little sad that we've only got two more games before the Christmas break.

On Friday night we were responsible for organising the second Ralston Progressive Supper party. Twelve couples took part and we are relieved to say no one dropped out at the last moment!

The twelve couples were split so that there were 4 courses going on at any one point. Then the guests moved round and met up with other couples for the next course. We started at 7:30pm and the final stragglers left the post supper party at our house at 2am! It was quite a long day considering I had been up since 5:30am, but great fun.

Today we went exploring south of Medicine Hat and discovered Hidden Valley, our nearest ski slope (which was a bit short of snow!) and Elkwater Lake which is in a forested hilly area about 40 minutes from town. We had a good long walk, but it was deserted and very cold, although judging by the size of the car park it must get very busy in the summer.

I've uploaded some photos of Elkwater to facebook, which you can see by clicking here

Monday, 12 November 2007

BFBS Hockey Tournament

So despite what the weather forecast had promised last weekend, the snow didn't last longer than a couple of hours and we've had none since! I'm sure that in 6 months time we'll be sick of the white stuff, but that doesn't make me any less eager to see the first proper "snow dump" of the season.

Still at least the snow boots have had their first outing! It was the BFBS Hockey Tournament on Saturday with most of the village taking part. The photo is of me demonstrating one of the kids games on the ice. Basically being pushed down the length of the ice rink on something resembling a giant frisbee! Great fun!

We've got another progressive supper party coming up on Friday this week. Twelve couples are taking part and we're hosting all of them at our house for a party at the end. Should be interesting!

Sunday, 4 November 2007

First snow of winter

Everyone has been telling us that Halloween is the tipping point for the snow arriving in Ralston, and this morning we woke up to find the village transformed.

It's been snowing for a couple of hours and it's not supposed to get any warmer than 1c before Tuesday, so it looks like it'll be here for a while! I bet the kids are loving it!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Wildlife on our doorstep

Bit of a shock yesterday when I went into work on the bike and discovered nearly two hours later that it was only -10c! It did feel kind of chilly!

It's very difficult to imagine this place covered in snow, I keep thinking about a story a colleague of mine told me about having to dig her way through a snow drift to get to the front door of BFBS to do the breakfast show! Jim assures me he will accompany me to work when the weather is that bad... we'll see! :-)

The wildlife seem to have noticed the colder weather and are spending much more time in the village. We've had a coyote on the loose in this week, taking an unhealthy interest in the school of all places! I'm not sure quite how dangerous coyotes are, except for the fact they aren't as benign as foxes and their other name is the prairie wolf! We also spotted two antelope right outside our living room window yesterday and they were still there when we came back from Medicine Hat at midnight.

Thursday, 1 November 2007


Yesterday I spent the afternoon out on the training grounds on the prairie with the EOD team. The training season has finished and a team of specialist explosive handlers have arrived to sweep the prairie for any leftover amunition. Charlie, the officer leading the group is an old friend of ours from the Falklands, so she arranged my visit.

Between them the team carry out about 30 controlled explosions a day, I went to watch one of them and it turned out to be quite an eventful detonation as it started a massive prairie fire! So not only did I get to hear the explosion, but I also ended up sat in a Land Rover with a ringside seat for a prairie fire. Everyone else was running round trying to beat it out, but I wasn't allowed out of the car. This is what was left over when they did eventually put the fire out.

The fire brigade had their hand's full yesterday. Not only did they attend the prairie fire, but they also spent Halloween evening driving round Ralston handing out sweets and playing rather manic sounding laughter through the speakers on the fire engine!

As you can imagine Halloween is a big event here, like most people we dressed up to receive the Trick or Treaters as they did the rounds and afterwards we went to the local pub for a party with a few friends.

My outfit is a little too good, so I feel obliged to explain that it is a mask I'm wearing!

There are a few more photos of Halloween here :

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Train spotting!

A lovely bright sunny day in Ralston today, although tempreatures have dropped a bit and we're back to a more seasonable 10c.

The training that takes place on the prairie has finished for this year and over the weekend about a hundred military vehicles trundled past our house down towards the railway where they were loaded on to trains to start their journey back to the UK for modifications.

The train is due to leave later today and so I went down this morning to take some photos. Although it's an annual event, there are an unusually large number of vehicles going back this year, so it was quite an impressive sight. Trains in Canada can easily be a mile long anyway, but when the load is made up of tanks rather than crates it looks amazing.

I finally got some mail this week. The Royal Mail strike seems to have really slowed the post down recently. My sister sent us a fantastic goodie box of M&S and Waitrose food. Lots of biscuits, bags of Percy Pigs and a box of Maltesers and we had our (slightly delayed) weekly delivery of newspapers and DVDs from my mum and dad today. They record UK TV for us, so we're managing to keep up with Silent Witness & Jamie Oliver!

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Skool Disco

It was Skool Disco in the Officer's Mess last night, so I thought I'd share a few photos with you. Just to clear up any confusion, Skool Disco is a school themed fancy dress night for the adults and absolutely nothing to do with any real school!

Jim mail-ordered a fantastic fat schoolgirl outfit from the States which went down very well and I wore my eBay outfit that I mail ordered whilst I was in the Falklands.

Our supper was a hot buffet of sausages, Cornish pasties, battered fish, chips, scotch eggs and veg followed by rice pudding and syrup sponge and custard!

The Lincolnshire sausages we had are made by a local butcher to an English recipe. One of the British guys here has a nice little enterprise importing the spices and rusk and selling the end product on to the staff at BATUS. They are delicious, I'm going to order another 10 packs for the freezer on Monday!

One final treat for you. Jim had to do the "school PE class" - I caught a bit of it on video and I think his fat suit looks even better when caught in motion!

By the way, you'll remember that my neice and nephew made scrapbooks whilst they were in Canada, well, they both got special achievement awards at school for them!
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Saturday, 20 October 2007

Getting ready for the snow!

The last our our visitors left this morning. My parents have returned to the UK after a 3 week trip round Canada which begun and finished with a few days in Ralston. The weather was very kind to us while they were here, lots of sunshine and temperatures are still in the mid-teens, in fact the forecast for Tuesday is 22c!

But, as everyone keeps telling us, BATUS was under several inches of snow this time last year , so the mild weather will have to end sooner or later!

By the way, we've booked our Christmas trip. We've got a condo at the Falcon Crest in Canmore for 11 nights and we're both hoping to get a place on the 'rec ski' course that BATUS organises during Christmas week.

Quite a few of our friends will be staying nearby and a Christmas party has been organised for Christmas Day evening, so it should beat the UK in the drizzle! :-)

I mentioned before that wild animals coming into the village is supposed to be a good sign that snow is on the way and this week I saw pronghorns (a sort of antelope) in the village on 3 out of 5 mornings when I went to work. One morning there was a pair in our garden!

So despite the current mild weather, we're getting ready for the winter and I've just bought a pair of snow boots (see photo) they cost $50 from Walmart (£12.50 for each foot!) and are guaranteed up to -30c. Don't ask me what happens when it drops below that, I guess we don't go out!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

Our first trip to the Rockies

We're back in Ralston after our first trip the Rockies. We were staying a 4 hour drive from home at the Baker Creek chalets near Lake Louise.

We had a wonderful one bedroom log cabin by a river with a wood burning stove, a kitchenette and a loft with two extra beds in it.

Our friends Kirsty & Mark joined us for Friday & Saturday night and on Sunday we met up with my sister and her family who had flown into Vancouver 10 days earlier and were taking a road trip down to meet us in Ralston.

On Saturday we visited the Columbian icefield, a large glacier which you can take a "snobus" trip to. It was -10c on the glacier which gave us our first suggestion of how cold -40c might feel over the winter! I wish I could say it wasn't that bad, but actually it's made me go out and buy some snow boots and a new ski jacket!

The most impressive bit of our visit to the icefield was the buses you travel in, along with their enormous tyres which cost $5,000 each.

Lake Louise itself was stunning, but as we had been told by so many people, it is just the lake and a big hotel and that's it! We got a chance to take some good photos though and had a nice walk round the lake.

We had a wonderful three course Thanksgiving dinner at Baker Creek's bistro on Sunday night. Butternut squash soup, roast turkey and apple cobbler for $40. The bad news is that the chef is moving in 10 days, the good news is he's heading to a restaurant called Crazy Weed in Canmore, so we'll be checking that out when we next visit.

On Monday night my sister and her family cancelled their stay at a hotel in Calgary and moved to a chalet at Baker Creek.

Jim introduced my nephew Archie and neice Millie to toasted marshmallows round a campfire outside our cabin, which they loved - of course!

Back in Ralston, the kids got ticks in all the boxes for the full Canadian experience, by trying out ice skating, making a scrapbook about their trip and getting kitted out in authentic cowboy and cowgirl outfits. 5 year-old Millie had to have everything in pink of course!

26/10 - Thought I'd add a bit of video of Millie and my sister Jane skating in Ralston. Millie looks a lot like her Uncle Jim on the ice!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Fall in Ralston

Our wonderful Canadian summer is slowly coming to an end, the trees have erupted into a spectacular display of colour and the prairie wildlife have started to venture into the village seeking some cover from the increasingly vocal coyotes!

Last night at about 8pm I was stopped in my tracks by two magnificent stags strolling into the village about 100 yards from our house. They were enormous! As the leaves come off the trees there have also been more sightings of Ralston's famous pair of Great Horned Owls. They average 2 foot tall and have been known to help themselves to cats for supper. I'll feel like I've really arrived when I finally see one in the flesh!

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Dinosaur Park

About an hour's drive from our home in Ralston is a place called Dinosaur Provinicial Park. We hadn't really realised but it's quite a big deal if you are into fossils, as it's where the most fossils and dinosaurs have ever been found. They've uncovered the remains of something like 6 different species of Dinosaur alone.

Driving up to the park is fascinating as you watch the landscape change first from the flat grasses of the prairie, to green wooded pastures like the UK and then eventually without much warning to something resembling the Grand Canyon!

Unfortunately unless you are into trekking across barren terrain, Dinosaur Park doesn't have much to offer other than a couple of impressive views and one large dinosaur skeleton. They didn't even have a place to get a drink and a sandwich! So it was a little bit of a disappointment, but we did get some good photos which we thought we'd share with you!

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Skate School

Every night this week I'm attending the Ralston Devils skate school. Ice hockey is a massive sport in Canada and there are several teams who play every seaeson at BATUS. The Ralston Devils isthe ladies team.

Anyone can have a go at joining the team and most of us who took to the ice on Monday were complete novices. This week is all about learning how to skate, which for a lot of people means just learning how to stay upright! Fortunately you wear so much padding, falling over doesn't hurt!

Talking of which, I've got so much kit on you'd be forgiven for not recognising me in these photos! I'm the one with the stripey socks on!

Monday, 3 September 2007

Skate school starts tonight!

Although we are still enjoying a hot Canadian summer, this week sees the start of the ice hockey season. I've signed up to join the Ralston Devils and having spent much of last week buying and borrowing the necessary equipment, tonight we'll be hitting the ice for the first time.

Every evening this week we'll be attending skate school, then at the end of the month (once we've stopped falling over!) we'll all be going to hockey school.

It's fair to say that ice hockey gear is not the most attractive of outfits and I feel obliged to point out I have not put on 6 stone since I arrived, there is a normal size me under all that padding!

Sunday, 26 August 2007

We're on the move!

This week we're moving house. We've been in our current 5 bedroom town house for 6 weeks. It has every gadget you could want (dishwasher, electric garage door etc.) but it's 50km from the base and as I start work at 6am, that means a long drive early in the morning and a total of 200km driving between us each day.

So on Wednesday, we'll be trading 165/403 South Ridge Drive...

For this, 7 Valcartier Avenue....

The biggest difference, other than the size of the house, is the amount of outside space we'll now have. All we currently have in Medicine Hat is the small yard you can see in the photo, in Ralston we'll have a huge garden.

Our new home has 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms (cheaper to heat, quicker to clean!) and most significantly is only a 5 minute bike ride from work.

Due to a very fortunate piece of timing, our removals aren't due to arrive until the week after we move, so what we do have to shift can be moved in one load in a small van. It's also timed very well for the start of the hockey season. The week after next I start skate school every evening at the Ralston Arena which is round the corner from our new home.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Getting ready for hockey!

The ice is going down at the arena in Ralston in a couple of weeks, so we've got ourselves kitted out for the ice hockey season. In the photo I'm wearing a rather sexy pair of "Jill shorts" which have padding to errr... protect your girlie bits!

Jim has an equally attractive pair of "Jack shorts" which make an excellent prop for Darth Vader impressions.

Our sticks were about $24 - a complete steal! Apparently wrapping tape around the head makes for better contact with the puck, I was sold on the idea when I saw that they had pink tape!

After spending all that money on scrapbooking stuff, I've also got round to doing my first page. It's not glued yet (which is why it's not straight!) but here's the result...

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Scrap booking

Many people have asked me what the wives do to keep themselves occupied in Canada and here is a big part of the answer! Scrap booking is huge in Canada and an entire industry has built up around it selling wallpaper, embelishments, albums and special storage boxes. You may want to laugh, I certainly did, but I've seen the results and the albums look stunning.

Scrap booking here is absolutely nothing like anything we have in the UK. It's a hobby which is taken quite seriously. At BATUS there is a scrap booking club and much discussion amongst the girls about the various styles people use (North American being apparently very different from Canadian!)

With Jim at work on Saturday, I went for lunch with the girls followed by a shopping trip to a couple of scrap booking stores in Medicine Hat. The selection was bewildering but I came away with a range of items to help me put together my first few pages! All I need now is to get some prints of the photos I have taken.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Ralston Rodeo

Another day of fantastic weather and it was our first Ralston Rodeo. It was a far bigger event than I was expecting with a full crowd turning out to the little village on the base to see calf roping, bull riding and several horse events.

A lot of the crowd had driven up from Medicine Hat, but there were also Rodeo groupies (taking notes on the timings the men achieved!) and competitors from far and wide keen to win some of the prize money that was up for grabs.

The professionals kicked off the day with some very slick performances. It's amazing watching the guys leap the fence when a very angry bull gets too close!

There were also some military events and Jim was volunteered for wild cow milking. Here he is with the other two team members trying to catch the cow! Just in case you are in any doubt, wild cows do NOT like being milked... or tied up... or chased!

If you're wondering which one he is in the second photo, you can just about make out his yellow gloves in the dust! The gloves were pretty essential, otherwise the rope goes through your hands and takes the skin off!

The wild cow milking was over in a couple of minutes. they didn't win and nor did they manage to get any milk out of the cow! Jim may not have got the coveted Ralston Rodeo belt buckle, but he does have some impressive war wounds to show off!

In the meantime I kept myself busy playing with the MODs expensive toys which were on display . This is a warrior armoured vehicle. It carries 10 and is really really small inside.