Some things change… others stay the same

Little puggy’s right eye was bothering him, so we went to the vet this morning.  I was worried he’d managed to poke another ulcer into his right eye, but turns out it was conjunctivitis. Sigh. Will some things never change?  

A bit of excitement today – managed to get into a bit of a scrape with the car. No one was hurt, except maybe my pride a little.  Car and concrete post had a bit of a fight, and i’m afraid the post fared better than the front wing of my car.  Sigh.
Visited my dear post office chaps today.  They thankfully did not renew their offers to take me to church, but they were excited I was back and asked after the wedding.  I hope the closures proposed by the government don’t affect that branch. I like having a ‘neighbourhood’ post office, where, though not to the point of knowing everyone’s name, still has that ‘Cheers’ feeling. Too bad Woody Harrelson wasn’t the dude behind the counter.
Time for some bubble tea – my mom sent some bubbles over with my dad and so we’re having some tonight as a treat!  With ovaltine. I’ll have to figure out how to make the red bean coconut milk ones. They are YUMMY.

A small organised person desperately trying to get out…

I forgot that I had drafted up a synopsis of our time in Canada – a pleasant surprise!

These are notes from the Tuesday after we were married:
I am a married woman! David & I left for Canada last Saturday, and the week has been a whirlwind and blur. So many memories clamoring to be preserved. I bought a notebook at the airport when we left to try and jot down as much as I can remember.

Saturday we arrived, and were met by my folks. Straight off to my favourite Calgary food – Vietnamese – at the Bagolac, a small but very busy little vietnamese diner just off Macleod Trail. I was tired, having knit like a crazy person on the plane (I knit and frogged the same sock three times, giving up and starting on the rather complicated Chucks Socks, a two colour cable by Eunny Jang) and starving. I had bun and for once did not wish I had pho. The lime slush was particularly delicious – it had slivers of fresh coconut in it. Mmmm. Home to my parents where I pretty much dropped into bed fully clothed while David and my mom bustled around me unpacking and hanging suits and shirts. Oh and of course laundry – we ran out of time in London and, like my good old student days, we brought back a whole suitcase full of dirty laundry to be done in the luxury of a electricity guzzling top loading north american washing machine and massive tumble dryer.  Heaven!

Sunday we had planned on heading up to Banff and get a day’s skiing in, but reality decided to check in and we ended up running around doing last minute errands. At this stage we still hadn’t finalised the seating plan, and had no clear idea how to actually present the seating plan so we wandered around Michael’s, a sort of craft superstore, in a slightly frenzied and harried aimlessness. We finally gave up, having had no real inspiration, and headed up to Banff to meet Clare, who had arrived slightly earlier than we expected. I love the drive to Banff – all prairie as we leave Calgary, heading towards the snowcapped mountains in the distance. Then suddenly, the mountains envelop us and we are in Kananaskis country, then Banff National Park. The sky was brilliantly blue, and the sun shining above. I’ve been going to Banff since I was a kid, and in high school I was up there every weekend. And still, after all that time, it never fails to thrill me.  

Clare came up to our room to meet us when we’d checked in – it was such a trip to see a friend from London on home turf. We went to the hotel’s wine bar Grapes for a fondue dinner – delicious. We also had a red rooster pinot noir 2005 that was absolutely divine. Canadian wines are such a treat, more so because it is very rare to find a Canadian wine in London.  The cheese sat heavy in our bellies, but totally worth it.  Mmmm….

Monday up early for the “Breakfast of Champions” as Melissa & Luke call the buffet breakfast at the Banff Springs. A vast spread of meat, pancakes, maple syrup baked beans, omelettes to order, hashbrowns, rosti, porridge, fruit, french toast, tortilla… the list goes on. I fell in love with the Red River hot cereal… yummmy.  Will have to get some next time I’m home.  And then off to Sunshine for some serious skiing. It had snowed Sunday night. I fared much better this ski trip than last time in Meribel where I ended up going to nap after lunch and sleeping clear through to dinner. Beautiful weather, and lovely powdery slopes. I was hopelessly out of shape, but really enjoyed swooshing down the runs at an easy pace.  The altitude did affect me, it was hard to breath at times.  The views were exhilarating, and it was great being back on the slopes.

We hooked up with David’s best man Carl, his gfriend Helen, and Helen’s sister F and F’s husband P for a quick drink at the end of the day. Then C, H, Clare, myself and David headed to the hot springs pool at the Banff Springs.  This is one of my favourite places in the world – a big pool filled with hot water from the local hot springs, surrounded by the rockies and the snow.  Fantabulous.  For dinner, we went into Banff town to the Grizzly Bear for more fondue. 

The Grizzly Bear is a slightly eccentric place, half wild west saloon, and half plain bonkers. But they do the most amazing fondue. Elk, buffalo, lobster, triple A grade Alberta beef, chicken, ostrich, alligator…. carnivore’s paradise.  We had a meat fondue – boiling oil and hot rocks, and plates of meat and lobster. We cooked the meat in the oil, or on the hot rocks, letting the meat sizzle and then eating it with various sauces, the best of which was the parsley garlic butter. After pretty much a whole cow of meat, and the most tender lobster sizzled on the rocks, we followed up with toblerone fondue. Eating, and eating alot (particularly meat!) was definitely a theme of the trip!

Tuesday we went to Norquay and had a morning of sun and snow, followed by a meeting with our wedding planner for final details. We also went to the Banff registry office to fill in all the formal paper work in preparation for the big day. I got flutters when we’d signed – it struck me as being all quite official then. When I was asked to affirm my intentions, I said, ‘Yep’. When David was asked, he said ‘I do’ in a very formal and serious voice.  

We drove back to Calgary to pick up David’s folks from the airport, and met up with my parents and my uncle Kai and aunt May (papayamango’s folks) for dinner at D’s fave Calgary restaurant – Catch. Uncle Kai & I shared the Tower of Lesser Power – a two tiered crab, shrimp, mussel, clam, oyster & scallop extravaganza. The Tower of Power had 3 tiers, which was too much power for just us 2. D as
usual picked the best dish – a gorgeous seared tuna steak. 

Wednesday we did a quick drive by visit with D’s folks, who opted not to join the japanese lunch with Uncle Kai, Papayamango, Uncle Ping & Aunt Amy (though it was yummy!!). We ate, Uncle Ping did his best rapper moves (helped by wearing my floor length shearling coat), then proceeded to talk strategy for the wedding. Uncle Kai was MC, as was papayamango, Uncle Ping & Aunt Amy were official supervisor’s and artistic eyes for the overall impact. Satisfied that my mother had a General’s command of the strategy and placements for the day, D & I headed back to Michael’s to get the materials for the table placements as I had finally had some inspiration, then headed back to the airport to pick up the S-P clan.

The first person we met was Irmgard, who had arrived from Kelowna. We were joined very soon thereafter by Melissa & Luke, then a beaming, but tired, Sophia, followed by B& Paul. M & L headed up to Banff with their prebooked transfer, and the rest of us piled into the SUV and back to Banff where we met with Lynn & Norm in the lobby of the hotel.

We left the S-P-S clan, and joined up with Clare who had spent the day at Sunshine, and went to Crazyweed, a very inventive and highly rated restaurant in Canmore. It did not dissapoint. A square gallery type space, with a grass roof, the food is Asian/fusion for want of a better description, but is so much more. Serious explosion and riot of flavours and textures. It is just divine. I had a duck leg and confit, over sweet potato mash, with caramelised kumquats. David had rib steak. Oooh that was good… and Clare had sable fish over a sauce of limejuice/fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, soybean… it was exquisite.

Thursday wasn’t terribly exciting for me, I spent Wed night thinking of how to do the placements, and figured it out and worked that out during the day. David & Clare went to Sunshine for some skiing. We later met with Colleen, the wedding coordinator at the hotel, and then the chef as we were very concerned that the roast rib of beef not be overcooked.  He was lovely, and completely agreed with us that the prime rib should be done medium rare – for everyone. With these kinds of things it is so easy for the food to become kind of blah, and we were anxious that the alberta beef be shown at its best (we Albertans are terribly proud of Alberta beef, and, despite being biased, I feel I can safely say, rightly so). He did not dissapoint… but more on that later.

Thursday eve my mom treated us to a couples massage – 90 minutes of bliss. After the days on the slopes we really needed it. My legs were sooooo sore.  I spent the first ten minutes laughing hysterically as David struggled with and then finally accepted the concept of being naked under the massage towels and blankets…only to find that I had kept my undies on.  He then worried that the masseurs were going to think him a perv!  I couldn’t stop laughing.

We were both were so spaced out and relaxed at the end of it.  But not so spaced out we didn’t eat! Samurai was the dinner of choice that night – a little japanese place in the hotel, with fish flown in fresh daily. The sushi was the best I’ve had in years, you could really taste the sushi rice. We were joine by Melis, Luke, Norm, Lynn, Irmgard, Paul, B, me & David. We had shabu shabu, and lots of little dishes that very nearly didn’t fit on the table. Lynn spotted that our waiter was a look like for Richard Dreyfuss. They had their own homemade green tea ice cream too that was amazing. Graham & Michelle, David’s best man and his wife, also popped in to say hello. 
Friday things really started to hot up. We squeezed in a morning’s skiing at sunshine then rushed back to the hotel to meet my mom and help her unload all the suits, and my dress. There was a fair bit of preening to do – I started at 215 and didn’t finish until 630. First pedicure. Then make up trial. Thank goodness I did that as I really didn’t want to be caked with make up and not look at all like me. Then hair, which was done by Jag, a very talented artist/stylist. The hair was kind of Dune/Sci Fi/Geisha. Very pretty and I was thrilled. Then he took it down, and put my hair in massive ringlets… kind of like an overgrown Shirley Temple. I wasn’t terribly fond of it, but as my hair is always very straight, I thought I might as well keep it for the sheer fun and novelty of it!

The actual rehearsal was a riot – I had a fit about the exchange of chattel bit (father walking me down the aisle, and then passing me off to David like the exchange of a camel or dairy cow!).  But it was good fun and the commissioner Carl was a lovely guy.  I’m glad he talked us through it as we had no idea what to expect!

We had a little kerfuffle trying to get to the restaurant for our rehearsal dinner, met my Uncle Kai in the lobby who told us he’d lost his aunt and uncle (my great aunt and great uncle – both 92 year olds!).  
More to come later! 🙂 

Paradise Found, Paradise… left for just a little while…

Since we came back it’s been grey and overcast, it’s hailed and sleeted, and even snowed! Now we have blue skies and sun. Although I’m sad we had to leave the Maldives, I am really happy to be back – I’ve missed Deuce terribly and, well, I can’t wait to get back to knitting! 🙂

We picked up my dad this morning from the airport. I was a bit worried about driving given it was snowing big fat flakes this morning, but it was all fine. The whole house went for a nap after lunch, even Deuce.

I’m still waiting for piccies from the wedding – and I’ll write up our time in Banff over the course of this week and add photos as I get them. But until then, here is a little peek:

My beautiful bouquet (all the flowers were a surprise, as I am totally clueless with flowers. My mom chose all).  I was totally impressed! There were full roses, hydrangeas and I think freesias in it.  Happy romantic colours…
My hair, done by Jag a little genius. I felt all Geisha/Dune/Star Wars…. there were three pony tails done up in a twisted braid, which were pinned in a kind of S shaped down the back of my head.   I loved it.  Yup that’s a glass of bubbly – sort of as a pre-ceremony celebration.  
The aisle – which I didn’t clock at all. A friend of David’s told me that when she walked down the aisle she made sure to walk slowly and look down every aisle and make eye contact with all her guests – and it was something she was really pleased to have done.  So I did the same, and she was right – it was great seeing all those familiar faces, faces from my childhood and friends from all over…  But it did mean that I didn’t actually take in the hall or the decorations, or the rose petals strewn down the aisle.  Very pleased people took photos so that I could see what I missed!
Me getting ready with my mom and M.  I’m not sure what everyone is doing, it looks like there is something happening on the floor, and that M has something in her eye, and that my top is falling down.  
And finally – the knitting. I managed to get a few rows done on my sock (Club sock number 2) whilst waiting for our cue to head over.

Whilst waiting for the wedding updates, here is a synopsis of our visit to a little piece of paradise in the Indian Ocean. The Maldives were heavenly. The Monday following our wedding we left this:

(the Bow River view from Banff Springs Hotel)
and arrived in London, staying just long enough to change suitcases, and a couple flights later, arrived to this:
(view of the ocean from our speedboat).
It was gorgeous and sunny in Male on our arrival, and we hopped a little speed boat to take us to the tiny island of Emboodhu, 15 minutes away.  
(view of other speedboats in the airport harbour. Airport is on its own little island!)
We whizzed across the water, which was so clear the white sand below and the fishies swimming around were clearly visible.  We approached our little island – these were the first views we had on the resort:
View of the Equator Bar from the walkway to the Reception
The Equator Bar
The beach in front of the Equator Bar.
From the reception lobby looking back to the dock.
The beach in front of the reception lobby (just to the left of the above photo).
The restaurant’s beach tables.

We had a funky green lemonade thingie made with Khum (not sure what that is, except that it was very green and quite tasty!) while we waited for each couple to be assigned a member of staff.  We were escorted around the island, shown the facilities, and then taken to our rooms. I was totally excited about the over water villas. And the first view of them didn’t disappoint!

The watervillas:

View of the water villas from our villa’s front door.
Our bathroom had picture windows onto the very clear blue lagoon.

Our room – view from the bed onto our deck and beyond into that clear blue water.
As you can imagine we totally loved the island. The staff were lovely and friendly, and the food was just amazing.
But the best thing of all? (besides my new hubby of course!) The sun and the water.
(no am not naked. I have a bathing suit on!)
We did a little exploring, visiting a nearby island called Maasfushi. The buildings were all very colourful, we visited the school, and saw where the tsunami came through from Sri Lanka. Scary.
We saw papaya trees (I had papaya juice everyday – it was awesome.)
and something called breadfruit which are eaten like potatoes.  I mentioned these to J who told me she tried them and said they taste like stale bread. Hmmm, not the tropical juiciness I was imagining!

We went snorkeling along the Emboodhu coral reef, and I managed to overcome my fear of fishies to actually enjoy the snorkeling by the end of it.  We saw a big ol’ turtle that just swam by us, chilled as you like.  Najah, our snorkel guide, told me later on (when we did our windsurf lesson, I was completely crap, but David was a natural!) that he wondered why I spent so much time with my head out of water. He laughed when I told him it was because I was trying not to freak out about the fish.  I tend to hyperventilate and whimper a little when fishies come close… sad, eh?  Still, at least I didn’t start shrieking like another guy on our snorkel trip – Najah had to tell him to calm down. On our last day we went snorkeling to the pavilion on the edge of our lagoon, and little fishies came near and I was unfazed.  I took lots of underwater piccies, I hope they turn out.  Maybe one day I can graduate to diving….  

The whole resort was completely chilled, with little golf buggies to give us rides from the restaurant to our room and back.  The walk was no more than 5 minutes though, and we spent most of our time without shoes – the sand was swept and raked every day many times, so there were no sharp anythings to step on.  This is another big deal for me – i never walk anywhere outside without shoes – not pavement, not grass, not even in my own garden.  But here – it felt so normal not to wear shoes.  I had a tension headache (or maybe altitude? who knows) for most of my stay in Banff, but by the first afternoon in the Maldives – no headaches at all. Sigh. 

-the snorkeling trip with the turtle
-the discovery that I’m not completely hopeless at snorkeling
-the Thai glass noodle salad
-the first night dinner with BBQ’s maldivian lobster (the colours were amazing – red and w
hite striped, not unlike my Dragon Dance RSC socks)
-seeing sting rays in the open air lagoon in the middle of the restaurant one night
-seeing a massive sting ray glide past us as we were leaving the island.  It was a lovely way to say goodbye!
People watching wasn’t very exciting for the most part – the women were mostly nicely toned wives, a few mothers, some japanese couples (often wearing matching outfits), a group of boisterous Italians, a very nicely turned out Russian family (three beautifully behaved kids), a couple quiet Brits.  But there were a some interesting visitors – a Sulaiman couple, the woman in a full head to toe burka (only a slit for her eyes).  
The most interesting were what I dubbed the Russian mafia  – an elderly kingpin (in his 70s), with two middle aged men both with substantial paunches.  They had in their group two rather buxom young women, both no older than 25 I’d say.  These were def not wives – not the right body language.  The two girls were friends, but they looked more like acquaintances with the men rather than family or lovers. You can imagine what I guessed them to be – the Pretty Woman variety.  
The two women looked like they were paired with the  men with the paunches, but then I saw one of the walking back to the villas carrying a bouquet of flowers with the kingpin.  
The plot only thickened when another Russian couple arrived, a bottle blond wearing hot pants and cork platform high heeled sandals.  She looked like the mistress of the man she was with- he was also about twice her age.  But the day after they arrived, she was one her own by the beach, wandered down there to be joined by – Larger Paunch from the Kingpin’s group.  They walked well apart a little further into the ocean, and then, she put her arms around him and he picked her up! it was like watching an afternoon soap, quite riveting… this elicited a shout from one of the buxom ladies (the other was not on the beach), and he came back seemingly embarrassed. All very intriguing.  David pretended not to notice as he didn’t want anyone slipping him anything radioactive.
And I liked the Coke cans. What a marketing genius they have.

These are dhonis, the classic Maldivian boats.
All in all it was a beautiful 7 days.  It rained pretty much most days, but it meant that we didn’t get badly sunburnt, and by the afternoon it was nice and sunny again.  I’m already dreaming up the next trip back!

On our way….

A whirlwind voyage to Banff and back- it was so lovely and perfect I need to reflect some to be able to properly do justice to everything and promise a longwinded blow by blow account to come. 1000ponies and Papayamango have described some of it- food was certainly a highlight- some of the best sushi I've had in a long time, and not forgetting the pride and joy of Alberta- AAA grade steak! Friends and family all congregated together (I gave more hugs and kisses in three days than I have given all year I am sure!) with messages from those who could not make it. My nearest and dearest mingled and chatted and met each other which I loved. My favourite jiujiu (uncles) were both there, Uncle Kai MCing and trying to keep track of an elusive pair of 90 year olds who kept running off, and Uncle Ping injecting a certain artistry and humour into the line dancing. My dear and beautiful goddaughter preceded me down the aisle accompanied by my maid and matron (heehee) of honour. And the wedding…. Sigh. It was truly the stuff of fairytales. The hall was magnificent and the dinner… Very harry potter!! I was expecting to see stars and the night sky on the ceiling! I couldn't have dreamt up a better one and feel like I am the luckiest daughter to have such a great mom who pretty much organised it all. More on the wedding to come…. I'll set up a flickr group for all the photos!

It is a funny thing to be married- I hadn't expected to feel any different…but somehow the little ring around our fingers gives me a thrill everytime I see them…. I also like to tell david every so often "you're my husband now" in the voice of papa lazarou (?) from League of Gentlemen (he's the circus guy who kidnaps housewives by placing a ring on their fingers, declaring "you're my wife now"). Cracks me up every time!

Now off to Maldives for a week of true R and R. Of course I have knitting, but some scrabble on the deck is in the plans and some beachside massage….. Eeee cannot wait!!!!!