Posted by: Valerie | February 14, 2010

Going to the dogs, and other events

Here I am, Sunday afternoon, idly watching some speed skaters burning their muscles up as they whiz around the track. It’s sort of mesmering. I know nothing about speed skating except that it’s good to go fast and stay on your skates. Oh, and it also helps to be Korean it seems. But then again, aren’t the Canadians going to win this one? I’m sure I heard that.

 The Olympics may be set to be an embarrassment after all the hype about how many medals Canda is expected to get. So far they’ve only got one silver. And oh, the weather! I guess we’ll have to hope things get better.

As mentioned in my last post, this was Bancroft’s big winter weekend. “Think Snow” they call it, as if we weren’t already! On Friday we dropped in on the charity Soup Kitchen at the local Legion Hall. It was very good indeed. There must have been twenty different kinds of soups from the exotic to the fairly pedestrian – all you can eat, with coffee and dessert for $5.00. The atmosphere at the Legion leaves a bit to be desired but it’s really the only venue in town other than the curling club which is equally dismal no matter how many balloons and streamers they put up.

Borscht? Tuscan Sunset?

Saturday was fairly cold but not enough to deter these doughty Canadians from going to the dogs. The dog sled races, I mean. It was a great place for photographs and I took many many. The cold was hard on the batteries though.

It really is fun to see how desperately those dogs want to get going. They were yipping and yelping, jumping up and down in their excitement and getting totally tangled up in each other’s harnesses. The noise at the start was postiviely deafening. The course was 20 miles through the bush along the defunct railways tracks. Miles? Really? Joe says yes. Roughly a three hour ride and the poor pups are pretty whacked when they get to the finish.

They're off! Note the blue booties.

When all the teams had disappeared we had a warm up and inspected the quilts in the Seniors’ Clubhouse and then  made a visit to the Pioneer exhibit which was most interesting.  The exhibitors were dressed in what looked like rags and were cooking bannock over an open fire but we didn’t stop for one as we were on our way to another location where they were offering a $5.00 chili lunch. I must say I had the best chili I’ve ever tasted. Unfortunately the creator of the chili was not present so I couldn’t beg the recipe. Dessert was extra at this venue. They were offering many different homemade pies for another $2.00. So to hell with Joe’s diabetes, we shared a serving of pie.

We want to RUN!

Then it was time for the sleigh rides. More photos coming up. I had thought that it would be romantic (Chekovian with a soundtrack of Prokofiev, in my mind) to head off into the snowy bush, wrapped in furs and blankets, on an old-fashioned sleigh drawn by wonderful furry-footed horses. Well, the Clydesdales were indeed magnificent with the requisite furry feet. The sleigh however was a flatbed trailer with a few bales of straw and the route was a circuit of the local playing field. So much for romance. No way were we going to get up there with a lot of snotty-nosed kids so we stayed by a fire and sipped hot cider which isn’t cider at all but merely very sweet apple juice.

Oh, cider, do I have some memories of cider! Bulmer’s in the bottle was the starter drink when we were young and thought it was harmless – it wasn’t but it was cheap; then one graduated to cider on tap in the pub which definitely got the better of many of us but nothing, nothing could compare with scrumpi, the real Devon cider. If you haven’t had a scrumpi hangover you have never really suffered! So glad I have grown out of doing that to myself. I was a slow learner though.

Sleigh ride, anyone?

It has just come to my attention that this is Valentine’s Day. Joe feebly protested that he thought it was tomorrow. Actually V’s Day has never been a big thing in my life although I will accept the obligatory roses if they come my way but I’d probably just as soon have the $40 or whatever they cost. Then I could get a handful of paperbacks and they don’t fade and die.

Happy Valentine's Day - have a pink cake!

This was my father’s birthday. His name was Valentine (Val – that’s why my family never shorten my name), he was no saint however and oddly, his funeral was on his birthday 92 years later. Happy Birthday, Dad, wherever you are now.


  1. I tried to find the speed skating as it is my favourite thing to watch. I used to speed skate when I was young. Loved it. I still have speed skates up in the attic, but they are too loose around the ankles. Maybe someday, I will get new boots put on the skates…

    It is hard to think that those days are over. We had a wonderful party tonight at my nephew’s house. Saw relatives that I hadn’t seen for ages.
    And it was my sister in law’s birthday. Her middle name is Valentine. She is 87 and keeps telling me that I am much younger than she is. We had lots of laughs at her expense, because all you have to do is say “yawn” and she yawns. Every time. Her boys love to torment her that way.

    There was a Katimavik lad there from Mexico whose name was Franco and as Colin and Carole are leaving for Mexico next week or March 1st for a couple of weeks, it was fun having a Spanish lesson. He wanted to know what “heart attack on a plate” meant and “giddy” – Nice kid and very, very good looking. Only 22….with a beautiful smile.

    There was wine and music and presents and toasts
    and Aunt Bessie’s musical gong for the blessing of the meal. Aunt Bessie was a Baptist missionary in India long ago. I had an Aunt Augusta who was also a Baptist missionary and she wrote a book. I used to have it, but it is gone.

    I enjoy your blog and Julia’s. I often wonder how you find living in the wild, cold wilderness after coming from Scotland. That is the only country that, when I am asked which place I would return to, I say Scotland. No question. But I haven’t been to Italy yet.

    • I really enjoyed that, Betty. Sounds like a wonderful time. I am most envious of people who have lots of family around. I have lots of sibs but we are all so scattered now that the last time we were all together was Dad’s funeral in 2005. Of course we all spoke about an annual get-together but it has never happened.

      I’m glad that you enjoyed Scotland. It gets pretty darn chilly there in the winter too but living on the coast moderates the ferocity of the cold but makes up for it with the gales off the North Sea. ( Have you ever heard about the Tay Bridge Disaster? Really wicked winds come roaring up the mouth of the River Tay and one terrible night it blew down the railway bridge across the river with a train full of people on it.) Every winter it was cold enough to skate outdoors and there was curling on the ponds. I can honestly say that I have felt much colder in the UK than I ever have here. We regularly had nasty things called chilblains on our ears, toes and fingers. We had no central heating, no double glazing and no insulation. We used to take our clothes into bed with us and dress under the covers. Also we had to wear school uniform which dictated short pants for the boys and gymslips for the girls with no leggings or stockings – just knee-length socks held up with elastic garters. Underneath we wore a woollen vest (undershirt) plus a thing called a liberty bodice and two pairs of knickers, then a vyella shirt and a tie, topped with a blazer and a trenchcoat over it. School beret had to be worn – no covering for ears allowed – hence the chilblains!

      You know, I have no plans for writing about my life in a chronological manner – as you may have gathered it was pretty bumpy – but I have considered writing snapshots of how we lived and individual memories of this and that that come to mind. One day I may even do it!

      Think I’ll go to bed now. Good book and an electric blankie are waiting. Also the cat is beginning to bully me. He gets agitated if I don’t go to bed at the right time. We have our ritual – I try to read and he tries to get in between me and my book.

  2. It is amazing how the shared memory of “liberty bodices” evoked my childhood. When I came to Tucson I met a girl from Harrogate, same age, (two days apart) same background and at the mention of liberty bodices and school uniforms the friendship was cemented. I must “google” where the dickens these things came from. I laughed at the description of you in bed getting dressed under the covers–hilarious-and so true. One had to scrape the frost off the inside of the windows.
    You have to read the “Palace of strange girls” by Sallie Day. Takes place in Blackpool but you could substitute any sea-side town in Scotland or England.

    • I’ll order it right away!

  3. I loved the photo of the dogs and the caption “we want to run”. They really look like they are barking that out loud!

    • I wish I’d taken a video snippet to capture the happy noise of about 100 dogs all yipping and yelling to be away. Noisy but really cheering somehow.

      I’m enjoying your photos greatly – especially the ultra-light – that must have been so much fun!

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