Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Crafting and sewing...

Ten days since my last post and I don't know where the time has gone!

Last Tuesday we had our scrapbooking evening at a local farm about an hour's drive from here and in the middle of nowhere. These days I'm more interested in sewing, but the idea of spending an evening in a Canadian family home is always interesting, so I went along.

Alice & her husband have one of three farms run by brothers, they have cattle and arable on their land. Being so remote they are also pretty self-sufficient, growing a lot of their own food and home schooling their three children. The lifestyle reminds me a lot of the Falklands where the kids are educated via shortwave radio and traveling teachers.

On Thursday it was the Medicine Hat Spring Rodeo, my colleague Jenny is a rodeo fanatic and she had booked tickets for all three nights, so we went with her and a couple of others. It was definitely more fun this year, now we know a little more about the events!

Just like last year the April weather has been amazing and we've been able to sit outside in the evening, catch a few rays in the afternoon and live with the front door open, but again, just like last year, it isn't going to last! Although it was 26c yesterday, tomorrow we have snow forecast and highs of 5c.... snow in April is definitely one thing I won't miss about Canada!

And finally today... I mentioned a little while ago a grand plan to equip our village store with cloth bags made from recycled materials by members of the community. The idea is an existing scheme called

Today we had the first workshop in the village school and the kids just loved it! We had boys begging us to set up a sewing club and teenagers saying how "cool" the sewing machines were and yes, we even managed to make some bags, 40 in total.

Granted a lot of them are a little aesthetically challenged with some wiggly lines of stitching and less than perfect seams, but woe betide any parent who picks up a plastic bag in preference to their child's masterpiece!

There is still lots more work to be done on our "grand plan" but we made a great start. I have lots of photos of the day, but of course I need the parents permission before putting them online, so I'll see if I can publish them later this week...

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Spring has arrived

Spring has finally arrived in Canada this week. Although it has been above freezing for some time, it took until Wednesday for the very last of the snow in our garden to melt and even today with temperatures reaching 17c, looking out across the prairie you could still see snow sitting in dips in the ground.

This time last year, the weather was 23c and we were convinced summer had arrived, but only a week later we had the biggest snowstorm I have ever seen, so we aren't quite in the clear yet!

However while it lasts, we are making the most of the weather and we actually went to our first barbecue of the year today, we had a great afternoon sitting in a garden in Ralston soaking up the sun!

Blackie the cat has also been enjoying the milder weather and is back on rodent control duties, she comes home every evening with a catch, which she has to try and smuggle past the dog, with varying degrees of success!

Yesterday we did our weekly shopping trip to Medicine Hat and stopped at the Dodge garage to admire the Challenger. (see above) Jim is tempted to buy one to bring back to Europe, but we think we'd probably need to park it across 4 spaces in a supermarket!

Next week we should have a few interesting things to report on. I am going to a scrapbooking evening at a local ranch on Tuesday and we are both going to the Medicine Hat spring rodeo on Thursday.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Las Vegas

A late update this week. We are chasing our tails after a long weekend in Vegas which ended with a very late night driving back from Calgary on Monday.

The trip was a Christmas present to Jim and I must say, that when I booked it in November I didn't really realise quite what a great time of year I had picked.

When we left Canada, it was just above freezing with the last of the snow still on the ground and a two and a half hour flight later, we were in Nevada and it was +26c! After the long Albertan winter, it was just what we needed!

This was the first time either of us had been to Vegas and we were pretty blown away! From the incredible architecture of the high rise buildings on The Strip to seeing people walking down the street with alcohol (we've lived in Canada too long!) and the incredible positive atmosphere which started as soon as we got on the plane.

Amongst the highlights of the weekend, we took a helicopter trip over the Hoover Dam to the Grand Canyon, landing in the canyon for a champagne picnic. Pretty expensive, but well worth it, especially when we flew over the queues of traffic driving up to the dam!

We also went to see Cirque De Soleil's Zumanity, which was good fun. Several audience members were pulled on stage to get involved in various adult themed sketches, most of which had the audience cheering and laughing, but we found out on the flight home that one of the girls who had been pulled on stage had fallen out with her boyfriend as a result of her involvement and was later seen in the foyer of her hotel with her cases! Oh dear!

We stayed at the MGM Grand, it was pot luck as I didn't know what I was booking, but it was a good choice.

It has an astonishing 5000 rooms and we were upgraded to one of the newer rooms in the West Wing with a great king-size bed and a modern bathroom which was partly open to the sleeping area.

The only flights we have taken since we arrived have been to the UK and back so it was such a novelty to fly short-haul and not arrive with jet lag. Now all we've got to do is work out if we can fit another weekend in before we leave, it seems rude not to! More photos of the weekend here