Thursday, 26 February 2009


Not the best of photos today, as it was shot in the fading light at 6pm, but I had to share it with you!

We have had ridiculous quantities of snow this week and whilst I have been out on snowshoes, Jim's favoured mode of transport is Nordic skis. He came to meet me at BFBS this afternoon, complete with Macy in her skijoring harness.

I think we need to work on her technique (she meanders a little) and the deep powder wasn't ideal, but they both had a lot of fun!

It's the Wives Winter Exercise in the Rockies this weekend, the forecast is for +10c on Sunday! There should be lots to report back on when I return...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Nordic skiing

We have spent this weekend in the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. It's about an hour an a half from Ralston on the border with Saskatchewan. The park run lots of free courses to encourage people to use the facility. Last year I tried snowshoeing with them and when we spotted that they were doing beginners nordic skiing classes we decided to make a weekend of it.

Just to recap for those who are new to this blog. My involvement with downhill skiing began and ended last winter in a 45 minute period, stuck up a mountain in the Rockies with temperatures of -26c. Jim on the other hand has skied for several years and although not obsessed by it, likes it an awful lot more than me (it wouldn't be hard!)

Could nordic skiing prove to be our common ground? Well, amazingly... yes!

Our group lesson on Saturday went really well and with beautiful blue skies and temperatures near freezing all weekend, we went back out for 3 hours on Sunday!

Away from the crowds, the chairlifts and the teenage boys showing off, skiing turned out to be a rather civilised sport. Up on a plateau gliding through the woods, we saw only half a dozen people all day and when we stopped, the only noise was the wind blowing through the pine trees. It was a wonderful peaceful way to see the countryside... we'll be back!

Thursday, 19 February 2009

More mellow yellow

Day 4 of yellow week and I'm playing catch up, but its not surprising when everything I see from my window is white. Here are some photos, see the others from all entrants in the Flickr pool

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Yellow week

There's precious little colour on the prairie at this time of the year, so I thought the idea on the House On Hill Road blog of a "yellow week" was just what I needed to add a bit of spring to snow covered Alberta! Above are a few yellow things I spotted around Ralston and there are
lots more in the Flickr pool.

There is also some pretty inspiring colour over on Grosgrain where Kathleen is giving away an adorable red coat. I have been sitting back and waiting for a moment to enter one of her contests for something truly fabulous and the coat certainly meets that description! If nothing else I think I'm going to have to buy the Canon lens she used for the photos, it produced some great results!

Sunday lunch in Patricia

We have just returned from visiting one of our nearest villages, Patricia, where we had Sunday lunch.

Patricia is about 45 minutes drive from Ralston and makes our village look positively expansive, however despite a small population it does have a rather excellent pub where you can cook your own food on a large grill.

We had heard of it through recommendation, so despite being rather daunted by the Google Earth view of it (it has about 4 streets!) we decided to risk a day trip!

For $20 a head we had drinks, soup, prawn kebabs, steak, salad, baked potato, garlic bread and pudding! We had been warned that it was busy on a Sunday, so were surprised to find for most of the time we were the only customers. I asked the owner if this was usual and he shrugged his shoulders. "These days, sometimes, sometimes not. It's the economy"

Patricia is a real one horse town, but we weren't surprised to see that like most Albertan hamlets it still boasts it's own rodeo ground. On the way home we stopped at Dinosaur Provincial park to show the spectacular view of the coulees to Ed's father who was visiting on holiday. The snow covered hills and frozen river were quite a contrast to the last time we visited with the RV in the summer!

Weather wise, we are still getting snow flurries on and off. Though temperatures are a lot more bearable, fluctuating between -10c and +10c. This morning we awoke to a fresh covering of the most remarkable snow I have ever seen. We were actually able to see every single individual snowflake in the pile. Very difficult to photograph, but we tried our best. I suggest you click on the photo on the left to view it full size. As Jim said, they look just like the things you would cut out in art class at primary school!

After a relatively quiet couple of weeks in the village, we are about to have a busy few weekends. Next week we are off to the Cypress Hills to do some cross-country skiing and snowshoeing and the following weekend is the Wives Winter Exercise in the Rockies, so there should be quite a lot of material for the blog!

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Ice lanterns

Whilst the UK has been deluged with snow this week, we have had some quite unseasonably warm weather in Alberta, with highs of 9c on Wednesday.

With a couple of gophers already out of hibernation, there has even been some reckless talk of an early spring... but there's probably a few more surprises left this winter...

Last night we had another Murder Mystery Party, this one was set on board the SS Titanium, with the murder victim having been found atop an iceberg.

With the overnight temperatures still pretty chilly and an iceberg central to the theme, I thought I'd make some ice lanterns. You can see a photo of one above and there are more pictures of them here. For the uninitiated there's also a simple step-by-step guide to making them here. They make great simple free table centre pieces.

To complete our theme last night I also printed these table mat covers. So, after all the preparation, I bet you're wondering who the murderer was? Well, that would be telling...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Skiing and sewing

Two contrasting weekends in the Mansell household this week. Jim spent a couple of days in the Rockies skiing at Sunshine, whilst I stayed at home and "looked after the dog" - which is my wonderful excuse for avoiding another humiliating day falling over on the slopes.

It was Jim's first skiing trip this season and although there was lots of fresh snow, it was also very windy and a couple of the chairlifts had to be closed.

Chairlifts are actually the main reason I have taken a break for snowboarding. There's only so many times you can be dropped out of them at the top, landing on your hands and knees whilst the whole lift is stopped and you crawl out of the way, but Jim assures me that you can ski all day at Lake Louise and only use the gondola. Maybe I'll venture back out...

So whilst Jim was skiing I went into town with my friend MaryAnne to the Medicine Hat psychic fair - you've got to do what you can to create your own entertainment on the prairie in winter!

We both had our palms read by a psychic who bizarrely insisted on drawing out all the lines on our hands in red pen, as you can see above. Don't ask me why I have so many more lines than MaryAnne, clearly a more interesting life?

This weekend I've also returned to a neglected quilting project. A year ago when I first started sewing I decided to make a "Canada quilt" where each square depicts something about our time here. Nothing like a complicated idea for your first design huh? With my quilting mentor due to leave Ralston in April, I'm racing to finish it. I've completed 11 squares and have 7 left to do.

As far as the weather goes, temperatures are going to be above freezing all week, which I think means we're better off than the UK for once...