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!