Sunday, 27 April 2008

Hurrah! The kitchen's finished!

Good news! Not only has our kitchen been completed on time, but the snow is at last thawing and the grass seems no worse for wear. Let's hope this now means we have seen the back of winter...and building work!

Appropriately enough the departure of the snow coincides with the ice coming up at the arena and the Ralston Devils end of season party, which took place last night.

All the team were presented with a framed photo and a ice hockey trophy. I must say breathed a sigh of relief at having survived the season and I think I can now happily put my kit away for good and consider the "ice hockey" box ticked!

I also made a round trip to Calgary airport yesterday to drop Jim off for a brief trip to the UK and whilst making the less than stimulating drive back across the prairie, it occurred to me that I should make room on this blog to mention a little about driving in Canada...

There are a few things that are memorable about driving here. Firstly the simplicity of the road networks. As in the US, all the cities and major roads are built on a grid system and thus corners on a highway are a big event, so much so that every winter several people end up in the ditch when they fail to awake from the monotony of the drive and negotiate one of three bends on a 200 km stretch of road between here and Calgary.

Because of this linear highway system our Satnav which we brought over with us, has been made utterly redundant. The directions for an hour an a half's drive to Dinosaur Provincial Park are simply "Up the Jenner, turn left." and the directions from Calgary airport to our house 2 and a half hours away are "Out of the airport, right onto the 1 and turn off a Ralston". We haven't tried it, but I suspect the directions to Vancouver on the west coast, wouldn't even fill a page of A4.

The final thing that marks out the Canadian driving experience is roundabouts, or rather the lack of them! Roundabouts in Canada are rarer than bends on a highway and when, in a radical move, one was built in Canmore in the Rockies, the local paper ran a full page feature giving the locals directions on how to use it.

Instead of roundabouts, Canadians have a complex system of four way stop signs. That's not stop as in give way, that's stop as in cease to move completely. This subtle difference is a tricky adjustment for Brits and failing to grasp it can land you with a fine of several hundred dollars. Fortunately 9 months into our tour we've got the hang of it!

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