Canada in instalments: 2 Glaciers

Even at the height of summer, you can find a cool spot in Canada. You can go further than that and find a place that is frozen rock-solid. All you have to do is to catch a ride on a huge, Moon-buggy like vehicle with wheels the size of a house all the way up the mountain to a nice and shiny glacier. And there you are: freezing your backside off and sliding like a caterpillar on a wet leaf!

The glacier is sprawled on a side of the mountain like a giant knee cap on an ogre’s knee. It is slippery and treacherous, and if you set foot over the boundary, you may just slip into an icy tube that will take you all the way to nowhere.

When you decide to visit the glacier, remember to ditch the bikini and put on ear warmers, scarf and mittens. Bon voyage!

Alternatively, take a look at some photos:

Canada in instalments: 2 Glaciers — my travelogue, part 2

Even in the height of summer, you can find a cool spot in Canada. You can go further than that and find a place that is frozen rock-solid. All you have to do is to catch a ride on a huge, Moon-baggy like vehicle with wheels the seize of a house all the way up the mountain […]

via Canada in instalments: 2 Glaciers — Anna Evans-Wylie

Canada in instalments: 1 Port Edmonton

Canada is big. You will hear a lot of that in this travelogue. The country is big. The mountains and the lakes are big. Animals are bigger than our equivalents of them. People are big and they are also big-hearted. Following in this tradition, Port Edmonton is big too. You don’t know where it begins and where it ends. It just sits there in the windswept and open plains, which may be prairies, or may not be prairies at all, but they are vast, flat, blanketed with weather-beaten grasses and punctured with coniferous trees. So to me that equates prairies. Port Edmonton is sprawled in the middle of that vastness.

Whilst there, our wonderful hosts took us back in time to Port Edmonton of the yesteryear. You might think that there is no history to speak of in Canada and you might even be excused in thinking that any trip back in time will take you straight to the Stone Age. But you will be wrong. Take a look at this little gem of the Wild (Canadian) West:

Canada in instalments: 1 Port Edmonton — my travelogue

Canada is big. You will hear a lot of that in this travelogue. The country is big. The mountains and the lakes are big. Animals are bigger than our equivalents of them. People are big and they are also big-hearted. Following in this tradition, Port Edmonton is big too. You don’t know where it begins […]

via Canada in instalments: 1 Port Edmonton — Anna Evans-Wylie

The Grand Old Duke of York…

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It was time for crossing the North-South divide and following the grand old Duke of York to the top of that hill. We travelled to York ready for a frosty reception and the War of Roses. But it was a friendly and warm place, and it offered peace to the world on all fronts.

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For a few days we lived in the friendliest little B&B, run by a Viking-type character with red hair, plenty of tattoos and non-nonsense approach to hearty, protein and fats-packed breakfast, bless him! We dined on traditional Yorkist food, slowly becoming full-blooded troopers.

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For some diversity, we lounged in Turkish Baths: a whole evening dedicated to sweating, braising our bodies on full heat and then dipping them in an ice-cold pool. Something akin to making wrought-iron swords of ourselves. There was some hyperventilating on Husband’s part, but he recovered quickly and without grumbling.

On a cultural front, we visited York Theatre Royal to watch Agatha Christie’s murder mystery (nearly wrote mysery!). It was excellent, stylish and true to Miss Marple.

But the most satisfying was just loitering around York and inhaling its atmosphere. We scaled the walls and were nearly swept off them by the gales. We trotted to and fro in the Shambles, searching for ghosts of the past.

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York Cathedral took our breath away. It’s a living form, not a building. It sits on ancient foundations which outdate the Romans, and it rises all the way to heaven. One can just settle down in a pew and soak in the spirits that float there free and unobstructed by the twenty-first century.  Some of them have their heads immortalised in one of the chambers.

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Bath – time

 

My gorgeous bestie back from the ancient days of our primary school visited me this month, all the way from Canada. Naturally, we concurred that we had not changed (or aged) one bit: me – still deliciously chubby and pale, her – still tall, slim and gorgeous.

First thing first: Dog had to be bribed and made friends with. It took just a few minutes and plenty of treats.

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Having conquered the dog, my friend was free to take over Bath. Bath is the most wonderful place on Earth if you’re into history, culture, shopping and Jane Austin (or Mr Darcy by proxy). So, we shopped. Oh yes! Big time spenders, us! Then we detoxed through the cultural experience of watching the yummy Laurence Fox (Hathaway in Lewis for those who don’t know him – yet) in The Real Thing in Bath Theatre Royal. Finally, escorted by my husband to avoid scandal, we bathed, sweated and performed heat-yoga at Roman Baths. Hot stuff! And decadent!

Of course, we dined and we wined. I’d recommend the oldest eatery in the world, Sally Lunn and her amazing buns filled with hearty, finger-licking food.

And finally: did you know that Bath is the stag-hen parties capital of the world? Now you do! We found ourselves a hunk of a stag to drape ourselves over and Husband wormed his way into the heart of a sitting duck ( I mean – hen!).

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Five star review of Swimming with Sharks

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Swimming with Sharks has earned itself a fantastic 5* review from none other than Deborah Swift, an acclaimed historical fiction writer.

What a treat!

A friend lent me this book and I enjoyed this quick crime read whilst sunning myself on a beach in Greece. I particularly liked the character of DI Gillian Marsh and think she’ll be an interesting detective to follow as the series develops.

The story doesn’t go where you expect it to go, which keeps the reader guessing as to what has happened to Nicola on her dream holiday. There were some interesting minor characters who all had plausible motives for murder, and a fast paced denouement. Ideal beach read for those not swimming with sharks!”

Deborah Swift

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Swimming-Sharks-Gillian-Marsh-Book/dp/1783759658/ref=cm_cr_srp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Swimming with Sharks by Anna Legat – a brilliantly written mystery

“This was a brilliantly written mystery. I was caught up in the story from the start. The author crafts a suffocating psychological thriller with Nicola Eagles, a timid, gauche woman as the victim. The author keeps us so tightly inside Nicola’s head it’s nearly claustrophobic but it fits the story perfectly.

We are given glimpses of her surroundings – the lush, tropical holiday resort, the people who interact with her, her deepest fears, her most intimate thoughts – but we are shut out from anything else. So when DI Gillian Marsh is called to investigate Nicola’s disappearance, we have no idea what really happened. It’s a rare author who can keep me guessing until the end – and the ending was a shocker.

DI Gillian Marsh is an interesting character, and I will be more than happy to continue to follow her adventures. But what drew me into the book and kept me there was the author’s mesmerising prose. I started reading for the mystery, and finished with the impression of having lived a whole other life in Nicola Eagle’s skin. Fascinating.”

Jennifer Macaire

 

Just cruising: a lazy mode holiday

Day 1

We set off for Dover and entered a torrent of rain, which followed us all the way. There is nothing closer to my heart than the companionable British weather!

We passed many a weird road sign, but one truly stood out. It was one of those temporary yellow signs warning of calamities such as roadworks and narrowing lanes. This one said: SIGN NOT IN USE. So, someone went to the trouble of erecting a middle-of-nowhere billboard to say nothing at all! Ingenious!

We had a day break in Hastings, a sleepy seaside town which had the dubious honour of welcoming to Britain that foreign invader, William the Conqueror. Not a French restaurant in sight so we settled for Nepalese. It was yum-yum, but it left me with my guts strewn on the floor. My delicate and bland palate cried for warm milk with honey.

The beach was pebbly and offered the benefit of a free foot massage. Daughter and I took the offer, Husband took the pavement like any civilised man would.

Day 2

The cruise ship was huge. It was in fact a floating town with a whole range of man-friendly facilities, shops, restaurants, libraries, gyms, swimming pools, cafes and theatres. We decided that if global warming was to come true and the world was to be flooded with the thawing Arctic ice, we should pre-book a cabin on a cruiser and give the climate change our proudly erected middle finger. Meantime, Daughter and I went swimming whilst Husband chose the sophisticated option of reading a book on the top deck.

For dinner, I ate so much that my stomach became inflated like a buoy. Nevertheless, I couldn’t say no to a dessert. On a positive note, I got deflated in the night, singing along with an Elvis impersonator.

……………….

Cruising choppy waters of the North Sea is a very noisy business, especially when one is trying to get some sleep.

Oil rigs are not as attractive a sightseeing option as you may think.

Seagulls will survive a nuclear or climatic Armageddon. It’s all water off their backs.

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……………

Day ?

Lost the count of days. Everything became a blur.

I woke up with a dreadful headache and, in pursuit of compassion, informed Husband accordingly.

‘I’ve got a bloody bad headache,’ said I.

‘That’s alright,’ said he. ‘It’s all in the mind.’

We spilled into the streets of Amsterdam. We discovered that apart from cows, cheese, clogs, bicycles, prostitutes and cannabis, dogs were also Holland’s national treasure. We bumped into a dog in every restaurant and public place. There was even a dog in the gallery, admiring the Judgment Day painting. I regretted not bringing Mango with us. She would’ve loved to be worshipped in double-Dutch.

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The 2-hour queue to Ann Frank’s annexe put us off so we went for the Old Masters in Rijks Museum. God, the Night Watch hit me between the eyes with its absolute perfection! I just gaped like a lightning-stricken idiot. Then, Daughter and I felt to our knees and prayed, thanking God for giving us Rembrandt. Husband was looking for the loo.

After another feast fit for kings, we watched a magician hang his wife in mid-air on a broom stick. Husband is still working it out. He is now contemplating the possibility of a magnetic field being hard at work.

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The next day

It was raining. When it rains in the Low Countries, it rains like it means it. We flip-flopped through puddles of water and God knows what else. Crazy cyclists wheezed by, taking our noses with them and leaving us in their wake. Did I say it was raining and we had to use amphibians as the most appropriate mode of transport?

Another impossibly long queue and we gave up on Van Gogh. I wiped off my tears and settled for the consolation prize: a trip into the back alleys of Amsterdam’s Red-Light District. Husband positively glowed at the very thought of it. Regrettably, the brothels looked all deserted. Either the jolly hookers were on strike or busy in the back room.

To detoxify I took Daughter to see The Street Cat Named Bob. I was enjoying it until some miserable old twit with no life of his own to speak of and a face of a squashed puffer-fish with a wispy moustache told me off for “kicking his chair”! I wasn’t anywhere near his chair – my feet were battering the chair next to him! With an attitude like that and notwithstanding that face, it came as no surprise that he was cruising on his own. Dickhead.

I was cheered up by a comedian who had a way with words like no other. Lloyd was his first name, but I didn’t catch his surname. Joke I remember:

Q: What’s the difference between a prostitute and a wife?

A: One is Pay-As-You-Go and the other one is on contract.

I ate like a pig and was beginning to look like one.

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Day …

I developed a most impressive set of blisters on my feet for walking in high heels. All because in Europe I felt compelled to put my European hat on, and trainers simply don’t go with a hat. My blisters are like large jelly fish specimen stuck between my toes. Still are.

I tried to steam them in a sauna room, but they only grew bigger and puffier. No plaster was large enough to cover them so I took to walking in slipper-clogs. I acquired a pair of those as a souvenir. We also bought, as you do when you don’t know what to do with the rest of your foreign currency two minutes before leaving for home, some hand-painted tulips, Dutch china coasters, key rings and a statue of a cow.

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Eating had become a dangerous habit. Time to go on a watermelon diet!

On a positive note, even though we were surrounded by geriatrics, nobody died and we all arrived back in Dover in more or less one piece.

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O Come All ye Faithful to Malmesbury Abbey

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On Saturday night, I feasted on music, gorging on the angelic singing of Malmesbury Community Choir, and delighting in the heavenly voices of the Westonbirt Girls’ School Chamber Choir. It was quite a treat and it conjured up Christmas on a count of four!

I tried to join in with some of the singing, alas my sheepish bleating failed to rise to the occasion. God and all His Saints must have been cringing up in Heaven at my tragic rendition of O Come All ye Faithful.

The beautiful Malmesbury Abbey was packed and bursting at the seams, so we had to find a place to sit beside King Athelstan’s tomb, on – as it happened – a very cushy little sofa, left there for the sole purpose of accommodating late arrivals from the far end of the county. We also had an unorthodox view of the goings-on. We were looking at the conductors, observed their animated faces and even more animated bodies.

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Watching a conductor in action is something else! The male conductor’s hands were in constant motion as if he was kneading dough: squeezing and stretching it, massaging it with his fingers, pulling, flicking and leaving it to rise. The lady conductor was like a weaver: picking thin strands of wool and dragging them through the air, then feeding them into the body of the melodic fabric, extracting loose ends on the other side, tying them into small knots and snipping the frayed bits at the end. It was all like some mysterious sign language that only the singers could understand, and respond to with their song.

And then at the end, the conductor put his finger to his lips. Motionless silence.

I sang carols all the way home, just like the fifth little Piggie, to my poor husband’s utter dismay. All stars ran away from the firmament, leaving only one crestfallen Moon and one disoriented Star.

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