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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Let there be heat....

Now we live in the semi-frozen north, a heater is a necessity. Even on some summer days, if the weather turns it's cold enough to be uncomfortable so we decided to get the job done here and now. We bought a highly recommended and popular heater called the Dickinson Newport, which is made right here in BC and runs on a slow drip feed of diesel. No pumps, no electricity, very simple and safe.

There are four challenges to be overcome.

1) Where to put it - boats seldom have a spare corner for this and that. Fortunately we've seen photos of another Young Sun boat that had this heater installed and it was right behind the mast support, so that was easy. To the left, the 'before' photo, and the 'after' photo is below on the right.

2) Making a hole for the chimney. The three inch piping that forms the chimney needs a five inch hole in the deck, to give space for heat to dissipate. That's no easy task, but luckily I asked around the anchorage and there's a shipwright living on his boat here who had the right tools and came to cut the hole for a few bucks. He's also familiar with the heater and gave me a few useful pointers. The photo there is of Max looking through the hole in the roof.

3) Mounting and heat shield. The heater needs a secure mounting and something to protect the surrounding woodwork. I designed a simple stainless steel bracket to do both jobs but it's not always easy to get these made. Luckily there's a heating engineering company in Nanaimo who do it, within walking distance of the docks. I went in on Monday lunchtime, got a call at 8:30am on Tuesday to say it was done. And they only charged me an hour of labour, the materials were free as it was a small job. Great service and a nice job too. The bracket fits perfectly and leaves space underneath for the carbon monoxide alarm.

4) Fuel supply. It's not easy to find space for an extra diesel tank either, but fortunately our shipwright friend suggested using a standard outboard tank from the locker in front of the mast, which then feeds by a drip-siphon effect to the heater. Perfect.

So installation went really well and, despite a few hiccups in getting the fuel flow running smoothly, it's now all nice and toasty warm. Of course, this is the cue for the sun to come out and we've had a glorious few days but I'm sure that won't last all summer....

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Ty Dewi aka Nanimo Marine Salvage and Harbour Protection

What is it about boat owners on this coast that makes it difficult for them to keep their boats in one place? After our 'good deed' in Salt Spring, the past twenty four hours see us helping out with three more.

Yesterday evening, as we were saying goodbye to some friends who had been aboard for a drink, the wind sprang up from the north-west. It's blown at, oh, maybe twenty knots at times which seems to be a BC yachtsmans gale, given the effect on the harbour.

Near us is a knackered old concrete boat in an advanced state of decay, obviously bought by someone with more hopes than money. She's been gradually dragging her anchor towards us all week in the light southerlies. With this shift, she swung around and merrily advanced on a nice sailboat who had anchored there for the night. Her crew looked nervously as the big ugly boat stopped a few feet ahead of them. I popped over in the dinghy, suggested that the boat was on a very light anchor and they'd be better moving, which they did. As for the concrete boat, I'm afraid she's one of the few that I wouldn't fight to save if there's no-one aboard. She actually stayed put all night, but as I write she's gone another thirty yards to the south.

At the same time, we noticed a cute little racing boat that we'd looked at on her mooring on the otherside of the harbour. She was now on our side of the harbour and moving gradually southwards. This one I'd better go get. It seems she's dragging because, apart from her mooring being too light for the job, she's got her keel tangled and is sideways to the wind. I decided to pull her backwards a bit and that worked to free the keel. Then she was lying to her mooring which I could untie more easily. After an aborted attempt to tow her by her bow, I lashed the dinghy alongside and brought her up to Ty Dewi. Unlike the last time, we now have a rough plan for these events and Gesa had already got fenders out, lines ready and we tied the boat alongside us. This morning I went back to her mooring buoy, copied the phone number from it and left the guy a message. He's on his way.

As I'm putting the phone away, we look across at the next door boat and find it's two next door boats, almost touching. Here we go again. The boat that has dragged down is another one here just for a night or two, and has a dinghy alongside but no-one is awake yet. Once again I grab my lifejacket, jump in our dinghy and pop over. A sharp rap on her hull brings a sleepy face to the companionway door. "Yep?". "Sorry sir, but you're dragging." He looks out. "F**k. Sorry, let me just get dressed." He's got his son aboard and doesn't need help to move his boat, so I come back for breakfast.

Lord knows what would happen if a real breeze ever blew through here. Now let me go look up the laws on salvage rights....

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Issie is reading about forests.

"There are two types of trees, coniferous and delicious."

That'll be the yummy maple syrup tree, then.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Pirate's Cove

On De Courcey Island, in a tiny place called Pirate's Cove, we did get an anchorage pretty much to ourselves. The cove is mostly marine park and is truly beautiful. The entrance is very narrow, you point the boat straight at the rocks, lining up an X on a tree with an arrow on the rocks. About thirty yards from shore, turn sharp left and through a gap only twice as wide as the boat and into the cove. Ashore there are trails, a campsite and information about the little park. Someone had recently set up a 'pirate's treasure chest' on the shore with a 'take something, leave something' notice, so the kids did exactly that.
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Clam Bay

Clam Bay was a lovely stop on the way to Salt Spring from Ladysmith. Apparently it is usually empty, but this was a holiday weekend and there were thirty boats there enjoying the peace and quiet. It's a nicely sheltered bay at the point where Thetis and Kuper Islands almost meet, there's a narrow cut through to Telegraph Cove on the western side, which we rode in the dinghy.

A few days later we passed by on the way north, the bay was indeed empty! It's only twenty miles from Vancouver so it's not surprising that the hoards invade on a long weekend. I reckon that as Summer gets going we'll need to go further and further north to get an anchorage alone.
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Salt Spring Island

Salt Spring is one of the most popular of the Gulf Islands, easily reached by ferry and home to a diverse community of folks, with a heavy artistic and craft bias. There seems to be some bi-polar nature to the island, the influx of second home money having led to a lot of very wealthy part time residents contrasting with the more bohemian group. I have the feeling that leads to some interesting politics on the island, but it's easy to see which side drives the economy of the place. It was fun to stay for a few days, being on the water and making the most of the little village of Ganges. Very arty.
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Photos from the Painted Turtle Guesthouse

Remember the Painted Turtle, the Guesthouse with the amazing coincidence? Well, here's some photos from our stay, mostly of the 'greatroom' where we could all sit, relax, play, make food and generally chill out before getting some sleep and off to meet Ty Dewi the next morning. We'd highly recommend the place to anyone.

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Nanaimo photos

Catching up a bit here, some photos from a couple of weeks back when we first explored Nanaimo. There's lots of history and activity here, and the more I explore the town the more I like it, it is a proper little city with all the services and stores that go with it, but most things are within walking distance. Everyone's really friendly too. It's a bit 'gritty', not all prettified and suburban, and we like that as our regular readers will know. It's a good place to have as our nearby city.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Anchored on the runway

Float planes are a regular part of life out here, with so many islands and sheltered, flat water everywhere. Here in Ganges we were careful to anchor well to one side of the channel so they have plenty of space, but clearly they go wherever they feel like. We've had planes pass both sides of us, within thirty or forty feet on their way to take off. We wave at the pilot and passengers, they wave back. It's neat. One day we should take a flight just to see these islands from above.
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Sartorial elegance as ever

I've always wanted an excuse to buy one of these shirts. Ever since I was a kid, visiting friends' farms in Northumerland and watched the lads working on cold mornings in thick padded plaid shirts, I've spent at least a tiny moment of every cold morning wishing I was a little bit warmer.

And now we're in Canada, and it's cold in the mornings, and I'm on the water, so I can justify buying one out of more than mere vanity - this will get used most mornings for the next couple of months, I suspect. It even has a hood!

Altogether now: 'I'm a lumberjack and I'm OK.....'

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We're off to a place called Pirate's Cove today. I tell the kids that. There's a little discussion about pirates, how they still exist in some parts of the world and so on.

'But there's none here, and there never were anyway', I tell them.

'No,' says Issie, 'it's too freezing cold.'

I must say, if I were a pirate I'd choose the Caribbean too....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Gesa's sixth sense

Call it a sixth sense, call it paranoia, but Gesa has a useful knack of knowing when something's not right.

We're in a little village called Ganges, a harbour on Salt Spring Island. It's an interesting link to our old home, for the boat used to be kept close to the old HMS Ganges training station at Shotley Point in Suffolk. This village is named for the same line of ships. For Arthur Ransome aficionados, some of the stories are set around Pin Mill - especially 'We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea' - because Captain Walker was stationed at HMS Ganges.

But I digress. We've arrived, we anchored, we explored. The usual we came, we conquered, we saw sort of thing. Back aboard for dinner, the rain is falling softly in it's British Columbian way and a cold breeze rises across the anchorage. We periodically look out the window to make sure we're in the same place but after an hour or two of not shifting, I do it less and less.

Gesa looks up later and says 'we're moving. Oh, no we're not, that boat is moving. Nick, he's really dragging!'. I agree. There's a thirty-fiveish foot yacht making her way quite rapidly across the anchorage towards a rocky shoreline. Clearly no-one is aboard, and if she doesn't stop soon it's not going to be pretty.

At times like this, it's really good to have a pre-prepared plan, to know what to do and just swing into action. We don't, so I wing it. At least the dinghy keys are where they should be, a lifejacket is right there and Gesa quickly grabs a length of line for a tow rope. I set off in the dinghy and manage to get a line on the boat's bow, make it fast to the dinghy and try to tow her back to safety. My first try only manages to stem her drift, my tow line is too short and I risk getting tangled in her useless anchor line. Lengthening the tow works, and I'm able to make some headway. When the wind gusts up we are dragged backwards but slowly I make progress.

After about fifteen minutes we are close enough for Gesa, who has been on deck watching and slowly freezing, to throw me a second line and we can tie the wayward boat to Ty Dewi. At least now we are in a fairly stable state, although I'm not happy to leave things like that. Gesa can get a warm jacket and gloves, and then we work hard to get the boat closer, another line aboard and bring her alongside us so we can lie safely until the owner returns.

We're most of the way through that when he does return, with a friend from another boat. They've obviously realised what's happened although until I told them, they didn't know how close his boat had come to the shore - less than a hundred yards at one point. Now we can let the boat go free and they lift the anchor in the normal way and head off across the harbour. I'm not sure, but I think they tied to a dock. He comes back to say thanks again and let me know that he does a lot of miles and has been to a lot of harbours and it's only in this one he really has problems. Well, I saw the size of the anchor on the end of that bit of rope and I'd say he could do with an upgrade.

The wind shift, and the extra load on our gear from two boats, has left me less confident in our position so we lift and reset our anchor twenty metres further into the channel. By now, of course, the kids have been awake and enjoying the bonus playtime as we sorted everything out so we have to go through a round of negotiation and threats to restore order before we can make a cup of coffee and settle back to our evening. Oh, the fun and games we have.

Interestingly, the Ransome book I mentioned begins with a dragging anchor - the kids are staying aboard one night when the wind builds, the anchor drags and they find themselves blown out of the harbour and with little option but to run downwind to Holland.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

TyDewi Heads Down to Ladysmith

TyDewi sets off on her first sail (motor) from Nanaimo to Ladysmith. It is a three hour trip, with only the Dodd's Narrows to add a little excitment into the journey. Once through here however, the scenery is breathtaking. Kayakers take advantage of the calm, warm weather, seals pop their heads up for a peak, and we keep a watchful eye out for logs! A new hazard for us up in these waters. It helps when birds sit on them! We met up with our friends at Page Point Marina nearLadysmith and have enjoyed a wonderful 24 hours here. Gesa even enjoyed a little time ashore with them as they searched out some local artisans. At Yellow Point they found a delightful garden gallery, fifteen years in the making. Gesa could not resist our first purchase of Vancouver Island art..a moose!! Now we just need to figure out where to store it. It is an exceptionally amazing place here, where else can you say you have seen seals, a bald eagle, heron, woodpecker, racoon, mink, and squirrels all in one day?!
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Back Aboard TyDewi

Within minutes back aboard, the kids just got right back into their usual routine: dressing up, play-dough, computer games etc. Clearly the 530am wake-up was just a bit too much for Issie, and she soon fell into a deep three hour sleep. After loading up the boat with provisions and returning the rental car, we motored the short distance across to Protection Island. A beautiful, calm anchorage with a great view of Nanaimo. From here we could just watch the world go by, and what a different world it is indeed. Float planes, ferries, water taxi's, you name it. By our second night, the weather had improved considerably, warm and sunny, good for putting the sails back on, and a dinghy trip ashore to the Dinghy Dock Pub. There we enjoyed a pint and met some interesting local liveaboards who have a pet cockatoo named Molly.
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TyDewi is Offloaded in Nanaimo

After a month on the high seas, TyDewi is reunited with her crew. The ship collected quite a few more yachts when it stopped in Mexico, so we were among many like minded sailors, keen to get their boats off and safely afloat again. Although some had engines stop etc., we got off without a hitch, and were moored up within minutes at the marina...phew!
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Friday, May 15, 2009

Afloat Again

Well here we are, back on board our home. Ty Dewi arrived, safe and sound on Tuesday afternoon. We were even there to see the ship pull into the harbour, having driven down to Nanaimo that afternoon. Unloading wasn't till the morning, so we went and stayed in the now famous Painted Turtle guesthouse, and had a very pleasant night. The alarm made for a less pleasant morning at 05:30 but we were down at the ship on time and everything went very smoothly.

We were floated, the engine started first time, thankfully, and we motored off the ship to the nearby Nanaimo marina. We could stay there for three hours without charge, so we took that opportunity to unload and return the hire car and get a few other tasks done before we went a few hundred yards across to the anchorage. Here in Nanaimo harbour we share the water with quite a few marinas, a nice anchorage, a few little water taxis, a couple of big ferries and frequent landings and takeoffs of the float planes to and from Vancouver. For a small city it's a busy place.

Yesterday afternoon, once we were anchored, it started to rain. And it rained and rained. The temperature fell to less than ten degrees and it felt darn cold. Nobody told us about this. Well, that's not exactly true, everybody told us it was cold and wet up here, but the reality can be a little harsh nonetheless. Today I went and ordered a heater....

Then today was a lot nicer, sunnier, warmer and generally a good time to be living on the water. We got some tasks done on the boat and ashore, most important of which was to package up my passport and send it off to London, where the Canadian government will put a visa in it and I can become legal. I'll have to nip down to the USA and cross the border to actually 'enter' Canada and activate the residents visa, then that wil be it, I can live, work and play here in BC. Very exciting.

Tomorrow we sail for the first time up here, a short three hour hop south to a town called Ladysmith where we can meet up again with our friends from Calgary. We have to pass through Dodds Narrows, a small gap between Gabriola Island and Vancouver Island where the tides run up to six knots, so timing is all. Luckily, we have things in our favour all morning. We'll be towing our fishing lines and hoping for salmon too. Gesa and Max are now our official fisher-persons. Until I am resident, a fishing licence costs a fortune, but Gesa's is just twenty-six dollars. Max's licence was free, so we got him one. Issie isn't at all interested!

So off we go, time to begin our cruising adventures in the Pacific.....

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Place we like....

So having done some touring, we had been planning on continuing to explore by boat and see what other coastal communities are like. And we will still do some of that, but we think we've found the place we'd like to live. It's a small village called Cumberland (on google maps here) just outside Courtenay in the Comox Valley. It's got some history, being one of the older settlements on the island and having been built on the strength of a nearby coal mine. At one time, it was a city to match Victoria, and also claimed to be the smallest and westernmost city in Canada.

Now, a hundred years later, it is what we might call a small town or large village of about three thousand, with historic buildings on the main street, older housing surrounding that and a recent growth of new housing on the outskirts. The building of the main island highway, with an exit just two miles from the village, makes it ever more attractive as a tourist destination and a place to live.

The village is close to many parks and forests, and has become a bit of a centre for mountain biking. It's also home to a strong community of artists and draws on the cultural traditions of the families whose forefathers came here to work the mine from Europe, China, Japan and all over America.

I'm sounding a bit like the tourist guide here, selling the place as a destination, but perhaps that's because we've really taken a liking to it. Some places just feel right, and for us, Cumberland seems to be one of those. Top middle in the collage are a couple of photos with mountains in the background. They are taken from the schools that the kids would go to until grade 10, when they would need to take a bus a few miles into Courtenay. These views from the playground sum up why we wanted to bring the kids up out here.

So our plan now is to sail for six to eight weeks, and look for a place to rent in the village from August onwards, then come ashore and get stuck into whatever there is to do for work around here. That might sound a bit a**e about face, but like many people we have met here the approach is to find a place we want to be then work out how to support ourselves.

For the next couple of months we'll really enjoy exploring on the water and look forward to our new start on this, the most interesting of islands we've visited in our whole island odyssey.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Places we've been.... (2)

Comox is a coastal town about halfway between Nanaimo and Campbell River. It is almost joined to another, slightly larger town called Courtenay, which is a touch closer to the main highway. Comox downtown is very pretty, it is neat, tidy, clean and full of nice little stores. It is clear that this is a thriving tourist destination in the summer, and there was plenty of local life right now too. It's known here abouts as a retirement community, and certainly the quiet, tidy feel echoed that. We really liked the place, and would like to live nearby and have Comox as part of our regular life. In some ways it is a little too perfect, almost like one of those science fiction movies where the town is taken over by aliens who try to blend in by doing nothing wrong. Courtenay, next door, is clearly where the original humans have been displaced to - still a nice looking town and with a more varied range of stores and services. It also has the bigger 'box' stores for those times when you need them.

Just a few miles from our place in Parksville is one of the island's many, many parks. Here at MacMillian Park is a stand of ancient trees known as Cathedral Grove. This stretch of forest contains trees over 800 years old, despite many being lost in a fierce windstorm in 1997. The old growth forest is magnificent, having never been cut for logging it retains the diversity of wildlife and leaves dead trees both fallen and standing as habitats and nutrients for the next generations. One of the biggest trees is almost nine metres around, Max did his best to hug it. This is temperate rain forest, which means that the climate is cool and damp, as we are so often reminded, and that means moss and greenery everywhere. Just like Ireland, being on the eastern side of a huge ocean makes for an emerald isle.

What is more amazing, for us, is that this isn't a vacation, this is where we want to live. It'll be important to remember, years from now, that part of the reason we are here is for all this natural beauty, so we must take our opportunities to get out and enjoy it, not get bound up in work, school, activities and everything else that tends to take over when you lose focus on the big picture.
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Places we've been....(1)

As you may recall, part of the point of this week ashore has been to get in the rental car and go look at places we might think about settling down, as well as just getting a feel for this part of the island. So here are a few photos and thoughts about where we've been.

We're staying in Parksville, at a lovely flat (condo) in a nice little beachside development. It's a great place for a holiday, and that's what the town is about - lots of rentals, holiday homes, beachfront and attractions. The provincial park next to our place is a nice forest walk, the views over the beach and to the mountains on the mainland shore are fabulous. We played mini-golf because the kids really wanted to, and we've been able to stock up at the big supermarket, get a video from the rental store, and all the other nice things about being ashore. We also celebrated Mother's Day (different day to the British one) with Gesa getting a massage from Issie and Max! It's too much of a seaside vacation town for us, though, as a place to live.

Nanaimo is a major gateway to the island, being the other end of the ferry to Vancouver City. We last saw it ten years ago, as we drove off the ferry. It docks in the scruffy, cargo dock part of town and leads you rapidly out through commercial sprawl. We were unimpressed. This time, we went to the heart of the city, which is really a mid-sized town, and walked around the ten or so blocks that make up downtown. It is really nice, with some historic buildings - Nanaimo was built on coal mining and export - and a very attractive waterfront. We'll be unloading Ty Dewi here and spending a bit more time in the city so we'll explore some more. Much as we like it, even this small city is bigger than we want to live in, so it'll be nice to have Nanaimo in easy reach without living right there.

Willow Point is really a suburb of Campbell River, the main settlement halfway up the island. Above that, there's little but wild space and wild small villages until Port Hardy at the northern tip, so Campbell River is our northern boundary for places to live. Here at Willow Point we found a lovely stretch of beach with massive driftwood logs, neat purple starfish and other critters, and some nicely done signs and 'interpretation'. The rest of the area is nice but quiet and suburban, didn't really push any buttons for us.

Campbell River is much more interesting, a lively waterfront and clearly a major town in this part of the world. Quadra Island is just a half mile across the water and that creates strong tides between, we watched ferries and boats being swept forcefully along as they transited the narrows. Around the town, many signs show the history of the area and the massive changes that have happened since the fifties, when much of the waterfront was just a muddy pile of logs being shipped out. Now there are highways, ferry docks, marinas and, just back from those on reclaimed land, shopping malls and public spaces. There was plenty to interest us in the town, and the surroundings are truly fabulous, just minutes to mountains, lakes and waterfalls. As a place to live, though, something didn't quite click. Perhaps it is the recent nature of the shopping areas, the way that the shopping malls replace much of the high street and leave parking lots as a major visible part of downtown. The marinas would be a great place to keep our boat though, if we can get a space - everywhere has a waiting list, so it seems.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009


Issie is using her new wristwatch to learn to tell the time. It's working pretty well.

Down on the beach in the morning, I say it's time to go back as Mummy will have got everything ready to go out.

'No Daddy, Mummy said we had to come back at 10:15'
'Well, what time is it now?'
'It's 10:21, that's not 10:15'

Sadly, I have to remind her that Mummy probably wouldn't find that a valid reason for staying on the beach for another eleven hours and fifty four minutes.


Max is learning to read and is at that point where he reads signs to us, sometimes right, sometimes not so. We are driving around the island and he is looking out of the window.

'Why are there so many signs saying 'don't marry'?

We are puzzled, we haven't seen anything exhorting us to avoid matrimony.

Then he points one out. It's election time round here and the roadside signs support the candidates, one of whom is called.....Don McRae

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Small world

Sometimes the strangest coincidences bring us together. Yesterday we were in Nanaimo to look around. We also wanted to find a hotel for the night before Ty Dewi turns up, because we have to be there at oh-early o'clock in the morning. I was going to look into the standard cheap-o lodges on the edge of town but we are walking through the town centre when we pass a nice looking guesthouse with a board advertising $70 specials.

We walk into the interestingly named 'Painted Turtle' guesthouse and have a lovely chat with the Australian owner who was travelling five years ago with his wife and just liked it here. The place is great, immaculate and interesting. They have a two year old and a new baby so common ground is quickly established. We book a family room for next week.

Today I get an email from my mum, who rents out a studio apartment attached to the family home back in Shropshire.

You will love this! I have today spoken to a lady called Doreen who lives in western Canada and has booked the Croft for an eight night stay in late May early June. We got talking as you do, with our important canadian link. She was quick to say you and Gesa should go into the 'Painted Turtle' in Nanaimo which is a guest house run by her daughter Angie and her husband Bruce, and I think she said they have a baby now."

Serendipity is a wonderful thing to have on your side.

Instant eh!

Thus proving that someone in the Canadian Immigration Service has a sense of humour, this advert made me laugh. (Click to enlarge it and read the small print) You have to know that Canadians are often teased for adding 'eh?' to the end of every sentence.

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In Calgary we stay with friends we made in the Caribbean, last seen on Statia and Saba where we hiked mountains and ate chinese food. Back in Canada they have a beautiful home filled with lovely art and, more importantly for some, a den with games and big screen tv. We relax and feel very much at home. Gesa meets an old friend in town, whom she hasn't seen for over ten years, and we discover a city of fossils and gemstones. At last the day comes to go to the airport and fly off to Vancouver Island and a whole new adventure.
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Edmonton travels

Up in Edmonton we spent time with our dear friend Ian, and stayed with friends just outside town. We played in the local playground, and took a trip up to Elk Island Provincial Park where the bison roam free and spring was trying ever so hard to spring. The kids couldn't believe their luck that there was still snow to be found but the locals were rather sick of the stuff by now. Ian drove us down the very straight road to Calgary and we admired the acres of farmland peppered with nodding donkeys. Issie has been reading ahead in class and told us that they are really called pumpjacks. Smart alec.
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Riding the train to Edmonton

The transcanada train is a lot of fun, even if you get off before the best bit past the rockies. Stopping halfway in the elegant Winnipeg station for a few hours, the kids pose with Gayle, who looked after them in the observation car, and then Issie met a mountie. We visited the railroad museum, and the girls went off to the Forks shopping centre for a bit or retail therapy and sightseeing. The very Canadian named girls, Aurora and Mackenzie, looked after us in the dining car, we saw old grain elevators and new grain loading in Saskatchewan, sunsets, lakes, trees, farmland, cities and all manner of scenes passing the windows of the train. And a truck stuck under the loading bay at the station. Never a dull moment.
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Some photos from Toronto. Fit the descriptions to the pictures if you can.....

We took the Amtrak train to Toronto's Union Street station, which was where we left from again a few days later. In the meantime, we had a great time with Gesa's longest-standing friend, who she knows from kindergarten, now has a six year old daughter and lives in the rather cool Leslieville area of Toronto. We walked around, drank a lot of coffee, rode the streetcars, went to the park, drank more coffee and so on. On the day we left, a sudden thunderstorm brought down a tree on their street and the cops had to come and guard the tree for a while. Sadly (so would say most neighbours) it missed the garden of the house with a million fluffy toys in front of it.
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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Canada, eh?

Here, on land, in Canada, we are starting to set up a few of the essentials of a 'real life' ashore. This can occasionally throw up interesting situations, I'll try to report on some of them.

The other day, it was time to get back to having a mobile (or 'cell') phone. Off I go to the store, having done some research and wanting a 'pay as you go' or prepaid phone.

'Sure sir, but have you thought about a monthly plan?'
'I have no address or credit history'
'You'll be wanting a prepaid then.'

So I choose one and he goes to activate it. His computer asks for various information.

'Er, I need an address, maybe where you are staying?'
'OK' and I give him Ian's address

'Phone number?'
'That's why I'm here'
'No, we need a home phone number.'
'Well, why not just put the store number?'
'We can't do that, they need to call it. Maybe we can put your buddy's number?'
'Why do they call?'
'Oh, they always do a customer survey about a week later.'
'Hm. So they'd say hi, the guy who stayed with you a week ago bought a phone from us, do you think he's happy with it?'
'Mmmm. OK, let's put the store number.'

So now I'm back in the world of the mobile phone, sigh.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Some photos from the train ride

- Taking a break at a stop in rural Ontario
- Sunset from the observation car dome
- The train winds through Canada
- And Canada recedes behind us
- Max in his bunk (my bunk was below, Gesa and Issie opposite)
- The dining car, where we spent about half our time! Yum Yum.

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