Friday, November 9, 2007

Weather Update

So we've been here 4 weeks and 1 day now and here's the summary weather report!

In one word..."varied!"

Rain - none at all.
Snow - 3 falls so far...each between 2 and 4 inches ("flurries" or "dustings" they call them!) - each has melted away over the next couple of days.
Sun - immense amount is an exceptionally sunny place...apparently, it runs Arizona close for sunshine hours each year.
Cloud - generally little or none, then occasional days where there is a reasonable sprinkling of cloud and only 2 days so far that have been pretty overcast.
Wind - from calm to what feel (or rather sound) like pretty severe night-time gales whistling around the barn, but then we are in a pretty exposed location here.
Temperatures - Highs in the low 80's F when we first got here, more recent highs have been in the mid to high 50's (so fairly nice with just a t-shirt and tracksuit top on, or similar). Lowest so far is 22F (about -5C) but that was late evening/overnight, so it didn't impact us too much.

Undoubtedly there is much worse to come but we've been surprised how well the weather has held up so far. Well, that's tomorrow's weather done for then!!


Mmmm Pie!

We went to the Calgary Farmer's Market today, which was really nice. It is an indoor affair.
We stopped off at a pie stall and the stall holder, picked up on our accents immediately. We were drawn to the stall by a sign saying "Melton Mowbray Pies", which you don't expect to see 4,400 miles from the UK and the stall holder advised that the owner of the business had been trained by Melton Mowbray. We got a steak pie for tea, with a tub of extra gravy thrown in and two pork pies (made just yesterday) for our lunch. These were very possibly the finest pork pies we have ever had!
At another pie stall, (honestly, there were more than pies for sale at the market!), they were giving away samples. We tried the Steak and Kidney Pie and we both thought that it would put up a fair fight with the fabled Ye Horns Inn Steak and Kidney Pie (for those of our readers who know that very excellent establishment/fayre).

We also bought organic meat, in the form of Bison Steaks, Chicken, Beef and Sausages. We sampled the sausages while we were there and they were delicious. There seemed to be a good range of organic and non-organic fruit and veg on various stalls, as well as fruit cakes, biscuits and other baked goods, gift items and so on.

It's open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, year 'round and as long as the meat we have bought tastes good when cooked, we would definitely make the Calgary Farmer's Market a regular haunt.

After the farmer's market, we drove to Millarville Christmas Market at the Millarville Race Track.
There seem to be an abundance of Christmas Markets coming up in various locations, so that should be fun. Janet enjoyed some roasted chestnuts as we strolled and there were a number of stall holders that we might consider buying from if we see them at future markets...but for today, we were very disciplined and kept our dollars in our pockets.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

Calgary Hitmen V's Everett Silvertips

We went to our first Ice Hockey match today. It was held at the Pengrowth Saddledome (we have attached a picture of the Pengrowth as we will hopefully be attending lots of events there over the coming months). This was also where we went to see the Brad Paisley concert we mentioned in an earlier post.

We were invited along to the Hockey game by Brian, the teller we end up using most often at the bank we're with here. We don't recall Lloyds TSB ever inviting us to anything at all over 7 years with them in the UK!

Well what of the game. Everett Silvertips are a Washington State based team so there was a good level of USA/Canada rivalry - mostly on the ice - where punch-ups were interuppted by occasional passages of play! Notably, any time the puck went near one goal or the other, it seemed to trigger a mass scramble that would develop into a mass brawl. On occasions players would shed helmets, gloves and sticks and dive into eachother, fists flailing, knocking seven bells out of eachother. What fun!

Seriously though, it was fast and furious and skillful but not without danger to the crowd as, surprisingly we thought, the puck disappeared at speed into the crowd on at least half a dozen occasions, despite there being barriers and nets to mitigate that risk.

Unfortunately, the Calgary Hitmen went down by 4 goals to 2 and played the last several minutes without a Goaltender (goalkeeper in soccer speak) as they threw on an extra attacking player in a desperate attempt to make up the deficit.

One of the joys of going to the Pengrowth (situated just south of Downtown Calgary) is that you seem to be able to drive away from it with ease. We made it from the exit of the building to the car and then to the southern edge of Calgary in about 20 minutes...which encourages you to go and see such events as it's not a major drag to either get there or get home.

A good first experience of Ice Hockey and we think we could well see ourselves going along to a Calgary Flames game (which is sort of at the Premiership level, tonight's game being a sort of Championship level affair...apologies to those that don't know what that means in terms of soccer).


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Preparing for the new house

These past few days, we've been on a controlled (well fairly) spending session, trying to get ourselves geared up for the new house (just 11 days to go now until we take possession). Among the things we've bought so far are:
LG 60" Plasma Screen TV and stand for our bonus room (well, we had to didn't we!)
Panasonic Surround Sound System to go with the above
LG 32" LCD Screen for the Living Room
Sofa (3 seater, 2 seater, chair and ottomoan)...bad picture of which is attached...for the bonus room
LG Washing Machine and LG Dryer - photos attached
King bed for the 2nd bedroom
Twin beds for the 3rd bedroom
Broom for outside sweeping up (because you can sweep the powdery snow with it)
Mop for inside.
Recycling bins
Christmas lights
Shaw Cable/Broadband/Telephone service
Epcor Electricity Service
Direct Energy Gas Service
etc, etc

Honestly, it's not green.

We will still need further sofas for the living room, some study furniture and no doubt a myriad of smaller bits and pieces, but we'll judge all that when we move in as there's no real hurry to get it right.


New Shoes!

Jan is getting ready for winter with the purchase of these ice skates. All she needs to do now is to learn to skate but apparently, lessons are given at the lake that our new house overlooks...when it ices over of course!

We're still looking for a pair of skates for Eamonn but they might need to be a special order as his size is proving hard to get.


Halloween Night

We mentioned in an earlier post how Halloween is taken seriously here. On Halloween night, we went on a stroll up and down Crystal Shores Drive (the road adjacent to the cul-de-sac we are moving to) as all the children, with their parents, went from door to door, Trick or Treating. Jan looked wonderful in a full length Morticia wig (now why haven't we got a photo of that!)

It was a really lovely, family oriented evening. Although some of the shots are a bit dark, these hopefully give you a flavour of the extent of participation among the local community.


Home Comforts (if/when needed)

If we've been quiet for the last few days, it's not because we've been off driving the new car everywhere (OK, we have but...) we've been without internet access as the wireless router we are hooking up to failed! While we've been offline, we've been noticing that, as and when we get hankerings for "home", there are plenty of familiar things to latch onto here.

For instance, Cadbury's chocolate seems to be readily available - many brits say it tastes different here but to us, it's the same although it is wrapped slightly differently. We also picked up a bottle of HP Sauce at the supermarket the other day...again, identical to the UK version. Christmas crackers are everywhere, which is different to the US, where they seem much harder to obtain. Jordans Muesli is here...a fave for Eam.

On TV, Coronation Street is here (although 6 months behind the UK storyline) and there are numerous other British serials such as Midsomer Murders and Heartbeat (not that either are of major interest...but hey, there's a long winter ahead of us!) You know that mad woman Aggie (or whatever) from "How Clean Is Your House"...well she keeps popping up here too, (we doubt we'll ever feel so homesick as to watch that show!). HMV record stores are here...and they have a whole section of DVDs entitled "British TV".

After the Saturday afternoon footie in the UK, you get the BBC Final Score programme where Garth Crooks and other ex footie players sit down to discuss the days results...well whad'ya know, we get that here, (but of course it's on Saturday morning!) And as we drove around Calgary today, Eamonn was listening to Blackburn v Liverpool on the BBC Radio 5Live broadcast via the satellite radio in the SUV. Also on the footie theme, we have made arrangements for the installation of our cable TV package when we move into the new house...and Eamonn was able to order the Setanta package which features many live premiership games. Jan sighs in despair!

If you ever wonder whether they have a certain thing here in Canada, just drop us a line and we'll let you know or we'll go find out.