Friday, September 23, 2005

Wild wild ouest

We've been having a great time in Canada, relaxing and also seeing lots of things. We went to the Canadian War Museum on Friday which was pretty good (though not as good as the one in Canberra).

NB: I'm having trouble uploading photos (other than the chipmunk one below) so will add more photos once I've returned home to the UK.

The museum we'd been to on the previous day was on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river, whereas this one was on the Ontario side. Even this short distance apart we noticed the French side was less friendly and people (locals) were more willing to barge past us (even willing to walk into Anne, whose bump is now quite obvious). Zut alors!

We'd planned to go to a drive-in theatre on Friday night, but the weather took a turn for the worse so we stayed in, gorged on pick and mix and watched Million Dollar Baby on DVD. It represents everything that is bad about Oscar winning movies. Avoid.

We were all up bright and early on Saturday for a two day trip to Algonquin National Park, a three hour drive west of Ottawa. After a coffee and donut in Barry's Bay on the way, we arrived at The Most Bizarre Bed and Breakfast there is, where we'd reserved rooms. There were stuffed animals everywhere and the reception had junk all around, including odd pictures of Elvis and lots of colourful decorations. The rooms were much the same. Sarah was clearly concerned, so I helped out by pointing out the similarities between this and The Bates Motel in Psycho. I like to think I made things easier for Sarah as she turned white.

But we weren't hanging around in the B&B. We picked up a picnic lunch and drive to the park. We were hoping to see bears, mooses and beavers. After our picnic failed to attract a bear (we feel the cartoon Yogi Bear must be inaccurate) we went for our first 2km walk and failed to spot any decent wildlife. The scenery was grand though, especially as the trees are just starting to change colour for the autumn.

Anne and I quite got into our walks when travelling in 2003, and a 2km walk would usually take about 20 minutes normally, or 40 over rough terrain. For some reason this walk took about an hour and a half. Part of the reason was Anne was unable to scrabble uphill as well as she used to due to her impregnated state, but I guess also we did a lot of standing near beaver-dams waiting and watching, hoping to catch a glimpse of a proper Canadian beaver. We also had to wait around when Sarah lost her hat in the lake - see Ian and Sarah's blog for the ridiculous story.

We did a few more walks on the Saturday, and whilst we saw no mooses, beavers or bears, we did see some chipmunks. When we saw the first one, Anne and I were really interested and took loads of photos. By the end of the weekend we'd seen so many that we were not too interested in them. How fickle we are.

On Saturday night, after dinner, Anne had a bath in the whirlpool bath in our room. I monkeyed around behind the shower curtain to amuse her, as carrying The Bean around is taking its toll on her. It wasn't long before I managed to brain myself on a towel rail and collapsed on the bed, writhing in agony. Anne couldn't see what had happened as the shower curtain was in the way, and she couldn't hear my screams due to the bath-pump. Ian and Sarah, in the next room, thought we were having rather too much fun, though the pain on my head (which I could still feel three days later) said otherwise.

We survived the night in The Bates Motel (actually called The Bellwood) and went back to the park for another walk on Sunday. We went to the visitors centre for a coffee and brownie before leaving to return to Ottawa, and saw some stuffed animals, including a beaver and a bear-head. I guess we'll have to make do with that, since no bears seemed to want to maul us in the wild.

Monday was less exciting. Anne and I went swimming in an indoor pool. The pool is in the Chinatown area of Ottawa, so we were swimming with old Chinese people. This meant I could legitimately swim in the fast lane! After that we walked back to The Glebe, the area in which Ian and Sarah live, and had a crepe lunch in a really good natural food cafe. Anne had to drag me away from the pudding section afterwards as she reminded me we'd be going for hot chocloate and a brownie when Ian and Sarah got back from work. We had a hot chocolate; but no brownie. Anne is a liar who is always denying me my chocolate brownies.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Holidaying in Ottawa

We flew to Canada on Thomas Cook Airlines. It was almost £200 (per person) cheaper than many of its competitors (and a direct flight). We were a little wary, but it turned out to be fine. No frills, but plenty of leg room and reasonable service. No TV in the back of the seats, and we ignored the movies on the small TVs in the ceiling (Mr & Mrs Smith and X Men). Instead we did Sudokus and ate several meals.

We were met at Ottawa by Ian and Sarah and a sign saying "Dr, Mr and The Bean Kent-Taylor". It was a very welcoming welcome. Ian forgot where he'd parked the car. When we found it we drove back to their apartment in The Glebe, a nice old area of Ottawa. We had another meal and chatted until we were exhausted.

Ian and Sarah are working during the week, so Anne and I spent Tuesday recovering from lack of sleep and exploring the area near to the apartment. It's 30 degrees here and we were pooped and hot.

On Wednesday Anne and I went to the Canadian Parliament and had a free tour. It's a great building and was interesting to see the centre of Canadian democracy. We've now seen the parliaments of Australia (Federal), New South Wales (state) and Canada, and yet have never been into the British Parliament.

We met Sarah and Ian in town after they'd finished work. We picked up food for a picnic in a supermarket and drove for miles to find a good spot for to eat it. When we found somewhere the wind was picking up, and so we had our picnic in the beginnings of a storm. For the first time since we arrived it was cold. Even so, I've not laughed so much in ages and it's good to be spending time with them.

Today we've been to The Canadian Museum of Civilisation and seen lots of exhibits on the aboriginal Canadians and Canadian history. We're now shattered, especially Anne who is finding carrying the weight of The Bean tiring.

We've been trying to figure out what differentiates the Canadian accent from the American accent. We asked Ian and Sarah:
Me: Can you recognise a Canadian accent?
I&S: Yeah - easy.
Me: So you can tell a Canadian and American accent apart?
I&S: Oh no - we've no idea how to do that.

Hmmm. What did they think I was asking?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

The great blog crossover

We're flying off to Canada tomorrow. Ottawa, in fact. Anne's only 24 week's pregnant, so can still travel. Our friends Ian and Sarah are living in Ottawa and have offered to put us up for a couple of weeks. And we wanted to grab the opportunity as people tell us that travelling won't be so easy after The Bean's born (I read the other day that you can't check babies in with your luggage on planes, and must take them into the cabin with you!)

They blog their Ottawa experience here, so you'll be able to read both sides of the story of our visit.

The Bean is going to be a well travelled Bean. It's already been to New York and Atlanta (though as a stowaway - Anne didn't know she was up the duff at the time).

Gender stereotype day

We had a busy gender-stereotype day today, doing jobs. I spent the morning stripping wallpaper in the smallest bedroom (which is to become the nursery if I can pull my finger out and get it finished). Anne changed the bedding, did some washing and put washing away, made bacon butties for brekkie, cleaned the bathroom, stewed some (home-grown) rhubarb, and roasted some (home-grown) tomatoes to make pasta sauce.

Yes, that sounds like Anne did loads more than me, but mine was one big job and hers were lots of smaller jobs. Stop nagging me.

After lunch (soup, for those who care) we went to a "nearly new sale" run by the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) to see what sort of things you can buy there (we weren't intending to buy anything - just looking). We'd only been there a few minutes when it became clear that Anne had a bad attitude and wasn't going to be much use. She got all hormonal (something that she never used to get before she got pregnant and so finds it particularly hard to deal with) and ended up in tears. She announced she didn't think she could cope with kids and would rather be living in London and drinking in All Bar One after work.

In order to make her feel better I took her to a local garden centre and bought her some new gardening gloves. That did the trick.

Anne later said she didn't mean it about All Bar One.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Place your bets!

Apparently a mother always knows what sex her Bean will be. I can honestly say I haven't got the foggiest. So, given the early failure in womens' intuition I am having to rely on more scientific methods.

I'm carrying the weight out front, so it's a BOY.
I'm carrying high, so it's a GIRL.
I had morning sickness early in preganncy, so it's a GIRL.
The baby's heartbeat is greater than 140bpm, so it's a GIRL.
I have no desire for orange juice, so it's a BOY.
I'm looking particularly good during pregnancy (ahem), so it's a BOY.
My belly looks like a basketball (as opposed to a watermelon), so it's a BOY.
The sum of the my age at conception and the number of the month of conception is an odd number, so it's a GIRL.

So, there we have. A 50:50 chance of having a girl or a boy. And who said Old Wives' Tales weren't accurate?