Over the past week I’ve been getting up to all sorts of fun activities with my friends Bjorn and Jackie, who I’ve been staying with in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. I’ve already posted some pictures over they week but I thought I’d put it altogether in a single post.
After untangling myself and the bike from the bureaucracy of customs and Air Canada, the week kicked off with a visit to the neighbours and a very warm welcome of a couple of glasses of whiskey.
Wednesday was a real mixed bag. We kicked off the day with going to a talk at St Francis Xavier University (I always think X-Men when i hear that name) about the future of universities in Canada. It may seem like a random thumbing to do on my first full day in Canada but Bjorn works there and Jackie is doing a master’s degree there, so they’ve got a vested interest in the subject. At was actually quite interesting and Canadian universities have many of the same problems that British universities have.
The afternoon couldn’t have been more different. First we visited Uncle Leo’s brewery, a cool micro-brewery in the area. They only do three beers, an IPA, and red ale and a porter. The IPA was my favourite, a nice light, citrus and hoppy beer – very summery. The porter was smoked and made you feel like you were drinking it in front of a log fire in winter.
Next we paid a visit to a friend of Jackie’s who is know for making moonshine. I can’t remember if there was a specific reason for the visit but we came away with two jars of apple & cinnamon moonshine that went down very well later that evening. She also told us about a vodka distillery that is being built on the way to the beach we were heading to. The distillery is being built by a German man with stills shipped i’m from Germany. He’s got two stills, one for vodka and the other for gin. Unfortunately the distillery isn’t up and running yet so there wasn’t anything for us to sample. The last stop off the day was to a beach on the north-west coast on Nova Scotia. The reason for the visit, other than the natural beauty of the area, was to see some amazonite. There were frickin’ gems in rocks on the beach!!!
Thursday morning Jackie gave me a tour of their garden. They’ve had a pretty hard winter this year so there’s not a whole lot growing but there was plenty of rhubarb. She was going to leave it to grow bigger, so she would have more but on my advice as an “expert” ( o_0 ) we picked a load and made rhubarb crumble (breakfast on Friday), rhubarb syrup which went very well with sparkling water (and would go even better with sparkling wine!), and rhubarb conserve. Whilst we were in the garden, the three cats were following us around. They’re l lovely cats with very different personalities.
In the afternoon we headed back to the university for Bjorn and Jackie to go swimming. Whilst they were doing that if promised Bjorn I’d set up an old laptop to be remotely accessible to be used for a weather station in a community centre. I figured it would be easy until I discovered it was running Windows Vista Home Basic with a WiFi card that couldn’t connect to networks secured with WPA2-PSK and didn’t support RDC. I may not have a job now but I see still like a challenge working with computers. And I beat the challenge and got it all working!
Friday i discovered what a ripoff mobile phone networks are in Canada. On Thursday if bought a sim card from the local Rogers authorised dealer for $30CAD, without any credit, was told I would have to go to another store to get credit and would have to sign up to a monthly plan (for pay-as-you-go). Friday I found out I could have got a SIM from Staples for $10CAD and didn’t have to sign up to a plan. The Rogers dealer refused to refund my SIM card, even though Rogers T&C says you can return unactivated cards!
In the afternoon we took a walk in the woods with Bernie, Bjorn’s neighbour. One of his plots of forest is about 200 acres and he’s doing up a cabin for his brother to move into. Bernie manages the forest to grow Christmas trees, although all the planting and pruning is done by hand, so it doesn’t look like a typical plantation, there’s also a good mix of other trees in there so it’s not a barren mono-culture. Down in the bottom of the valley there’s a beaver dam and lodge. He’s also got a wonderful old barn that’s falling down but full of treasure/junk. He’s going to pull it down but not until the resident swallows have fledged. It’s also home to a porcupine but I wasn’t able to get a picture of it. The flies in the woods are crazy but somehow I managed to avoid getting bitten.
Saturday and Sunday we were in Moncton, New Brunswick, for Roller Derby. Jackie coaches the team from New Glasgow and they were going to be having a match against the team from Sydney. Last time they played together the Sydney team won and whilst the Sydney team won again this time the New Glasgow team were much improved and were the stronger team in the second half. I’m friends with some of the people that are setting up a roller derby team back in Guernsey and I now want to get involved with that as a referee or NSO. Jackie had also promised to bring her derby gear to Guernsey when they come to visit!
Whilst in Moncton Bjorn and I also visited the local Magnetic Hill attraction. This is a hill where you drive to the bottom, put the car in neutral, take the brakes of and it rolls up hill on it’s own. We were both very sceptical of this but it is incredibly convincing, to the point that were tried it several times and starting at several points. I know it’s only an optical illusion, however I did find myself questioning reality. Bjorn filmed it and if he puts it on Facebook or YouTube I’ll share it here.