Canadian Winter, Robert Burns & “A’ That”

Well, work is in full-flow now, but there’s still plenty of room to be an exploring student….check it out!

I’m just home from Ottawa seeing their winter festival “Winterlude” over the weekend which opened with an epic fireworks display.  I was, as usual, an extremely excited tourist when I discovered that the sculptural signs on the streets advertising Winterlude were, in fact, ice sculptures!  And that was nothing compared to ones in the centre, we got to actually see the artists at work making gigantic Mermaids, Dragons, Buddha’s, Snakes, and even the Loch Ness Monster!!  We even got hot chocolate and pancakes – free!  Always good when you’re a student 🙂

The best part was ice skating on the Rideau Canal.  And if you’re picturing ice cracking over freezing water (like my mum did), think again.  It’s completely frozen top to bottom this time every year for weeks.  It’s pretty cold!  And hundreds of people would skate to work, take their kids or have a romantic day out in the gorgeous sunshine surrounded by Ottawa’s Hogwarts-like architecture.  We had several Beavertails and Maple Taffy while skating too, (when you pour Maple Syrup on ice then twizzle it round a wee stick – yum!)

By birthday experience here couldn’t be better, I was serenaded by a trombone (by my friend who’s in the Queen’s Bands) in the middle of the Grizzly Grill and surprised by a home-made cake from my friends (which we managed to divide between all 22 of us…Impressive, eh?) followed by a night out.  The most important part is that I am now 21 and therefore legally permitted to drink in the US next time I go – woo hoo!

I also went on a Winter Wonderland trip with the Outdoors Club a few weeks back. It was at Lake Mayo, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by snow-capped forests.  I had a stab (and somewhat badly) at cross-country skiing for the first time across the lake, and went snow-shoeing through the forest – I honestly felt like I’d stepped through a cupboard into Narnia, it was that stunning! – Oooh, and we also built and slept in a Quincy i.e. an igloo but made with snow, JUST to be able to say we did it…(even if we did bail at 4am due to feeling a little claustrophobic…but we still did it!  Hee hee).  It was an unforgettable experience.

Oh, ROBERT BURNS NIGHT!  Well, a friend celebrated it in true Scottish style since people here are really excited by Scottish culture.  So, we introduced our international gathering and Canadian friends to the full works; Parade of the Haggis (which, um, was, er, replaced.  By a potato.  Due to certain… difficulties… in obtaining a real haggis), Address Tae the Haggis(/potato), a rendition of Auld Lang Syne, The Immortal Memory, Toast to the Lasses and Reply from the Lasses…followed by the consumption of some rather good Scotch and a Ceilidh dance!  It was great fun & we wore our kilts all day.

For reading week, 4 friends and I are renting a car to go to Algonquin Park, a National Park where we can do lots of winter activities and sports AND….DOG SLEDING!!!!  I’m extremely excited as I’ve always wanted to do it!  We’re also heading to Niagra Falls again to see it frozen, and Niagra on the Lake…then back home to perhaps do a little studying to make up for all the fun we’ve been having 🙂

The Vancouver Olympics start this Friday!  So everyone here’s excited and heading to the bars at about 3pm to get a seat to watch it together.  Then on Saturday a bunch of us are heading to Frontenac Park for some snow-shoeing/snow-castle building, and I’ve FINALLY managed to plan a skiing trip!  It can be quite expensive to ski here but I’ve found a $55 deal for transport and equipment.  I am desperate to cross it off my list of “Things I must do abroad”, and hope I haven’t forgotten how to do it!

Right, I’d better get back to the work I sacrificed for Winterlude…and maybe reward myself with a hot chocolate due to the cold weather!  Hee hee, ah the benefits of -25 degrees 🙂

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