Canada in instalments: 4 Nature

God has created Canada in his image – no doubt about that.  The Canadian mountains carry themselves with dignity. They are simply magnificent: ancient, rocky, covered with a thick blanket of impenetrable forests. They sit in splendid silence, letting Nature do her talking.

The Canadian Lakes are equally majestic. They are filled with spirits and dead souls, hiding dark secrets within their depths. Legends are told about them, passed from generation to generation. Some are sacred and you don’t have to be told to know that. You can sense it.

But I will let the photos tell their story:

Advertisements

Canada in instalments: 3 Its People

As mentioned previously, size matters in Canada. People there have big visions and they live in huge log cabins (you could carve a Titanic-type cruiser out of one of those logs!). Inside their enormous homes, they drink lots of spirits out of gigantic bottles (photographic evidence to follow in the slideshow below). They are also biiiig party animals. Every night they hold five-course meals for themselves and the legions of their many friends. Did I mention that Canadians are extremely sociable, chatty and generally great mixers?

But when in Canada one tends to go searching for the Last of the Mohicans. As did we. We tracked them down in the end and, although they didn’t resemble Daniel Day-Lewis closely, I felt like I caught up with the ghosts of the land. And I felt honoured to speak to those amazing – and elusive – people. That brought back memories of my childhood when I would always be an Indian when we played Cowboys & Indians. I even had a bow with arrows and a feather headdress!

 

 

 

Canada in instalments: 3 Its People — my Canadian travelogue

As mentioned previously, size matters in Canada. People there have big visions and they live in huge log cabins (you could carve a Titanic-type cruiser out of one of those logs!). Inside their enormous homes, they drink lots of spirits out of gigantic bottles (photographic evidence to follow in the slideshow below). They are also […]

via Canada in instalments: 3 Its People — Anna Evans-Wylie

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

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.

P1070096

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!).

P1070110P1070111

 

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

 

Paula may have made it… to Heaven

My summer writing project is at an end. The first draft of my comedy novel, Paula Goes to Heaven has been completed. Just in time, as I am about say goodbye to summer holidays and re-enter the land of the living (and go back to work to earn a living – sad face).

Dead as a dodo, Paula emerged from my debut novel, Life Without Me. She was the heroine’s wayward and rather wicked sister who inadvertently committed suicide. It was really meant to be a cry for help, but Paula got carried away, and then there was no going back.

She is now on her way to Heaven, though her route to paradise isn’t as straight and narrow as she would like it to be. For one, she is re-directed to Hell and instructed to abandon all her hope. But Paula never does as she is told. Plus, she has a child to deliver from Evil.

While I am waiting for my first draft to undergo a cooling-down period before editing, I have been playing with the cover. With my new graphic tablet (that’s me finally catching up with technology!) I have mocked up two provisional covers, jut for fun. Which cover looks better?

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.

P1070026

……………

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.

P1070038

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.

P1070033

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.

P1070045

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.

P1070049

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.

P1070031