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The "Love Couple's" latest guests

Bex and Estelle come to stay

-2 °C

Saturday 28th Feb - Sunny

The morning started with a video session. Just Chris, me and young Dan were there. We practiced our level 2 riding and watched the video for useful feedback. As the session finished, the day outside was getting more and more pleasant and so we went off to chuck on our home clothes and get out there to play.

It was a fab day for riding. It was super sunny on the hill and there is powder again for the first time in ages and so we spent most of the day there. Out with Vaughan and Eric for a change, we were all hitting the jumps well and having lots of fun together. I landed a couple of 360's to prove to myself that they are not one off-flukes and to top the day off, as we rode down the boundary run towards the end of the day, we spotted a bald eagle flying overhead. A great end to some awesome riding.

The girls arrived in the evening at Cranbrook airport and so as a treat and an outing we took the crippled Jackie with us to pick them up. I was very excited to be having guests of mine to stay and I couldn't wait for them to get off the plane. I was up and down, looking out of the window when the tiny aircraft landed and wanted each person getting off to be them. Typically, they were almost last off (out of the at least 16 people that fit on the plane) but I was relieved to see them there and surprised to be greeting old uni mates with a backdrop of the Canadian Rockies.

We all squidged in the car and headed back to ours for dinner and bed. Bex and Estelle, both avid readers of the blog, have chastised our near continuous mention of food. So after all the mickey taking, I will try and mention it less. But not before I have shown them what an important role food plays on our lives here in Kimberley!!

Sunday 1st March (March! where did that come from) - Overcast and snowy

This morning, with jet-lag helping with the early rise, I worked at getting the girls organised for riding. Boy, do they take a long time to get ready! Having washed and brushed and primped and moisturised and then put on the jumpers, fleeces, jackets, hats, coats and gloves necessary to protect their feeble British bodies from the Canadian minus degrees, we managed to leave the house.

Apparently some friends we had met at Bex and Estelle's hen do gave us a nickname based on our affection for one another and so we are being referred to as the Love Couple this week! The girls really enjoyed their first day out skiing and we managed to show them quite a bit of the hill including the sunpit, which has been improved with an archway entrance. We tried to show off our silky skills, but they were not as good as yesterday.

The sunpit with recent improvements
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At lunchtime the plan was to pick up a delicious burger from the outdoor BBQ, but we missed them by a few minutes. Not to be disappointed, we got lunch from the canteen and I think Bex and Estelle munched on their pizza for the rest of the week. I also got them to try the chocolate brownies. Both faces lit up as they tasted them. Maybe now they are beginning to understand our obsession with food. By the time we came down our last run both Bex and Estelle were feeling the ski ache in their legs and other places. Bex and I had a stretch out on the stairs and it fell oh so good!

Lunges
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After our day on the hill, Estelle insisted we stop at the Stemwinder for a beverage. Of course, having a Viper (university rugby girl) over here was bound to mean drinking. Perhaps a little disappointed to see how much my drinking ability has slowed down in my old age, Estelle contented herself with a beer and a chat. Bex and I went for the more traditional apres-ski, Gluhwein. After drinks, we took a stroll home in the snow, some of which was considerably deeper than we had expected. In rugby girl style, the old tackles were coming out and more than one person ended up in the snow. But worst off were my goggles that got buried under Christian and I.

Not really much of a shortcut
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Bex was keen on using the hot tub to relieve the achy muscles from a day on skis, so we all jumped in for a quick soak before dinner.

Monday 2nd March - variable

Today we organised a ski lesson for the girls with our resident ski supervisor and all-round "nice guy" Sam. Bex and Estelle were both very pleased with their improvement and Sam's awesome skiing. Whilst we had been teaching, they had been all over the hill with Sam and have even been down Notre Dame, a run on the far side of the hill that neither Christian or I had been on.

The ski girls
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We went into town after work to get a food shop done and the girls were amused to see that our local supermarket is called "Overwaitea". We then popped into the Sully for a drink (or 5 if you are Bex) and to plan all the things that could be done in the coming days. Home for dinner and an evening of reminiscing about Bordeaux and Aston (Christian looked thrilled by it, or not so much).

Tuesday 3rd March - still kinda overcast, +2

I have been keeping the girls ski's in my work locker and putting them out on the rack in the morning for them to go out riding and I had been noticing as the days went by, that the skis were staying on the rack a little longer each day. Somebody was either growing accustomed to the Canadian time zone or they were becoming even worse at getting through their morning routine!

I went up and rode with the girls in the afternoon as Christian had a lesson to teach. With a couple of days skiing behind them and a lesson with an awesome instructor, I thought they would be comfortable with some slightly more challenging runs. And so we went down Rosa and off onto some thicker snow and bumpier terrain. Unfortunately for us, all the heavy snowfall and then mild temperatures had turned the snow into something between quicksand and glue. We each took our turn in falling down and getting stuck. Bex had to be dug out by Estelle when her ski wedged into a sticky bank and she fell over, getting all twisted up. Estelle then took a tumble into some more gluey pow, loosing her arms completely and finding it almost impossible to get up. Bex and I of course did the noble thing by taking a photograph and then sniggering quite a lot.

Estelle loses her arms in the sticky powder
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In the evening we had a bunch of the ski school over, including Liana. It seemed like an opportune moment to open the bottle of Winter Pimms that we had Bex and Estelle had kindly brought over from the UK. We heated it up with apple juice and made a nice toddy for playing drinking games with. Vaughan taught the group his rules to 'ring of fire' and we played a game. Liana cunningly made me drink all her forfeits somehow (I hope she doesn't expectme to be bright and breezy at work tomorrow). Along with the drinks we had the usual snackage and found that Bex likes peanut butter M&Ms too (good job!). Eric, ever the non-drinker, had to do push ups for his forfeits instead of drinking. We thought this was a more fitting punushment than last time when he got away with just eating salsa and chips.

Wednesday 3rd March - still mild and cloudy about -3

So after their success with Sam, Bex and Estelle were ready for another day with an amazing instructor. Only this time they chose me!! They had (foolishly) decided that having a friend who is a snowboard instructor is a good excuse to learn snowboarding and so took a 2-hour lesson with me. Estelle had admitted that her balance was not that brilliant and with the ground being as hard as a rock I was a bit worried that the 2 of them may end up having less fun than they had anticipated!

But I was to be surprised. I took them through the progression of exercises and they picked each one up very quickly. They got their balance on their first attempt and, apart from the odd desperate grab from Estelle, were going pretty much solo down the beginner hill on heels and toes. It was all looking so promising, something had to go wrong, and it did. First Estelle landed on her bum hard and I winced with sympathy and then she crashed down on her knees. On the hard icy bunny hill we had that day, any tumble was going to hurt, but when Bex fell backwards and hit her head it must have been the most painful of the lot. It sounds like they were a bit of a disaster area, but in truth only 3 tumbles between them in 2 hours was very good going. It would just appear that when they choose to go down, these girls do it with gusto!

Determined and fearless the girls carried on and got to turns by the end of the lesson. It was great fun teaching them and though they won't be leaving their preferred 2 sticks for the 1 board any time soon, I think they enjoyed the experience of trying out something new.

Christian and Sarah in uniform
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Whilst Christian, Bex and Estelle enjoyed a relaxed evening in watching snowboard movies, I had promised Vaughan that I would help him out with some songs of his that he's recording by doing some backing vocals. It was the first time I had been to a recording studio and I was a bit scared.

When I turned up no one seemed to be in, so I took my shoes off at the back door and walked inside the guys home. I still couldn't find any people, just a very large dog that looked unimpressed at finding an intruder in the front room. Half expecting to be eaten by this perturbed wolf-beast, I decided I should go and look down in the basement (why you may ask? what was happening to me? was I in a horror movie?). Fortunately for me I did not find a psychopath and meet a grizzly end, I just found a soundproof room, Vaughan and a christian youth worker with a penchant for recording equipment. The "studio" was the size of a small bathroom and was full of computers, mics, musical instruments and now 3 people. It was interesting to see how the recording works, as Vaughan played the final bars to a tune on his ukulele and then layered over the lyrics after.

I was up and felt like I had suddenly found myself in a school assembly in my pyjamas. "So how much professional singing have you done?" I was asked, none being my reply. "So have you ever sung live and used a mic?" well I was in my school choir about 12 years ago but no mics. As you can image this line of questioning had put me in a particularly confident mood. It got even better when we went for a first take and the (seemingly less and less christian) youth worker asked "Are you trying to sing really quietly or is that your normal voice?". Thankfully it got better from this point onwards and I got to wear the cool big headphones. Vaughan was really happy with the end results and I got a CD of the final recording. Mentally and vocally exhausted I headed home with Vaughan for a well deserved alcoholic beverage.

Thursday 4th March - more pleasant

Not many lessons today, so Christian and I went out for a ride over the back side this morning. We went down Jackpot and played in the deep powder that is there. We wanted to make the most of a chance to play, just the 2 of us and it was lots of fun. As the season goes on, you can sometimes get caught up working and having fun off the hill and forget to just go out and enjoy riding. As we started descending the moguls, I turned around one of them and a icy lump sticking out, smacked me on the knee, HARD! Was this retribution for beating up Estelle's knees yesterday? It hurt, but I wasn't going to let it spoil my fun and so Chris and I had a race down the moguls. He won, but only just.

Today the girls only made it to the hill in the afternoon (possibly as a result of amount of punishment I had put their bodies through yesterday). But this meant that they had plenty of energy to ride with us in the afternoon and so Christian, Vaughan, Eric and I accompanied them down Notre Dame.

They had missed out in the morning though, as Sam was practicing for a racing course he is going on and had been spotted around the resort in his garishly coloured unitard!

Sam in his racing unitard - sexy!?
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This evening was the night for convincing the girls that food is a great thing to obsess over and so we took them to the Bauernhaus. We had a fabulous evening with spectacular food and a 'hauntingly good' wine with a particularly interesting label on the bottle. We tried 2 different schnitzels between us and I personally think Bex and I made the best choice with pear and melted brie over ours, though the others had very tender chicken.

Ms's Bentall-Lynch
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Bex enjoying the lovely wine
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Proving that Kimberley is a small town, we met both Lesley from ski school and Nick from ski patrol sat at nearby tables. The desserts were also really good and I had a giant ice cream sundae with hot raspberries and sauce, called Hot Love! I probably shouldn't have though as my body was already bursting with Bavarian savouries. When we eventually got round to walking home (we were the last to leave) I could feel a 'Fred baby' of fatty foods in my tummy. The extra weight wasn't helping my now sore, brusied knee.

The four of us
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Friday 5th March

In practice for our level 2 exam, Dan took a load of us out for a session this morning and filmed us riding on various terrain. We went through some steep powder and with the combination of an unfamiliar thickness of snow, the pressure of friends watching and a camera being on me, I managed to bail spectacularly onto my face. Later on Dan got us straightlining a steep icy section of the Boundary run. He sure gets me pushing myself each time he runs a session, even if the technical benefits aren't instantly obvious! He also got us hitting up the park and I tried a newly installed side-on wall ride. It didn't quite work out and I ended up landing on my bum. Great, that is 2 of the 3 injuries inflicted on Bex and Estelle that I have now suffered from. By the way, my knee is now looking beautiful!

My beautiful knee
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Another trip to the Stemwinder but this time with the whole gang. A load of the ski school were there and as we listened to the live band play we decided to tap along, Christian on the glasses, me and Lisa on our mobile phones and Naomi with a slice of orange (it's the thought that counts). We decided that cooking was too much of a hassle and another meal out would be fun, and so we booked a table at the Green Phoenix for 6: us lot plus Vaughan and Lisa.

Seeing as the walk was such a success last night, we walked to dinner again. This time down into town. And I wanted to find the shortcut behind the Bauernhaus. After looking everywhere and then asking inside the restaurant, we headed in the dusk, down a steep, unlit, icy path through thick woodland with little idea of where we would be coming out. Somehow it worked, and Bex and Estelle only looked a little displeased at their friends latest attempts to injure them.

Everyone
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We were surprised to see Lesley again, second night running, looks like she eats out a lot. There were 3 others from the hill at other tables and a friend of Lisa's was playing guitar. Food was tapas and was very nice, we were more restrained than the night before and shared a selection of tapas between us and having not over eaten for a change, felt like we deserved dessert. Bex, trying to take it easy on the food intake chose baklava, thinking it would be little mouth-sized tasters. She was therefore very surprised when she was served up a slab of honey glued pastry the size of a hefty novel. Despite sharing it out amongst everyone, Bex still found herself weighed down with food twins (Fiona and Felicity) and manically shaking and grinning from her sugar overdose by the time we grabbed a cab home.

The Love Couple at the Green Phoenix
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Saturday 6th March - sunny

Today is Bex and Estelle's final day in Kimberley and Claire's first. Christian and I started our day with an indoor session, watching a video of our riding with Dan from yesterday. Then we went back home where Bex and Estelle were packing. We took them to the airport, and then headed to Jackie and Chris's place in Wasa to play around on the lake.

Wasa lake in the sunshine
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At the lake we tried to get quads and a ski-doo running, but to no avail. Instead we found an old dirt bike, a GT racer and a sled and so took them out onto the lake instead. The day was bright and sunny as we dragged each other about on the ice. I gave the bike a go and skidded it over, bashing up my other knee. Well, it had at least evened up my hobble. Christian did a much better job on the bike and could even pull the rest of us about behind him on the sleds, going so far as to drag other Chris over a small kicker we'd made.

Riding the dirt bike
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Christian giving sled rides
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Off the lake, we decided to take our truck out for a spin and test the 4 wheel drive. I wasn't really prepared for what this meant, but the "road" they wanted me to drive down resembled nothing more than a very snowy field. Fired from my drivers role, Eric jumped in the front seat and from my vantage point, cowering in the flatbed I could see the snow being kicked up as we bounced over the ground. Jackie didn't seem to mind that her knee was injured and was first to volunteer to be pulled back down the deadly path on the plastic sled (mental Canadians!).

Our snowman
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Cookin' Smokies
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Back home we got into some more civilised activities building a snowman and cooking smokies on an open fire. The food was great and re-energised us for a good session building Lego (Sarah -a house, Christian-a railway, Jackie-a pyramid Eric-a spaceship and Chris-far to mature for that nonsense). We finished our evening learning how to play dice, which was surprisingly addictive and then headed back to Kimberley to pick up a rather sleepy Miss North after her epic journey by plane and bus.

Playing dice
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Posted by HOODnDIGS 19:09 Archived in Canada Tagged gay_travel

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