A Travellerspoint blog

Bringing in the New Year Kimberley-style

All you need for a great New Year - fondue, two fiddles and some raspberry spritzer

snow -10 °C

Wednesday 31st, New Year's Eve

After another standard day in the Kimberley office, we arrived home to find a note had been slipped under our door by the Jacson 8. They had invited us over for curry the following night. However, we are planning on leading a snowshoe tour that night, and so popped up to let them down gently.

Paul was the only grown up in, with Liam and Sarah staying home, whilst the others were at a Kootenay Ice hockey match in Cranbrook. In the usual way of the Jacson 8, we were promptly invited in and offered alcoholic beverages. After a good chat and a pack of rather out of date, but none the less edible chips (that's crisps to you UK folks) Paul decided to take the initiative and offer us dinner tonight. We eagerly took up the offer and enjoyed playing with the kids until the others returned.

Little Sarah in her reindeer horns
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Christian with an even smaller Sarah than usual
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It looked like the ladies were going to be late home and so with few ingredients and even less knowledge we started to make cheese fondue. Luckily Susan arrived just in time to stop us ruining dinner and quickly set about making things right. There was loads of meat and veg to be dipped into the two yummy cheese dips, one of which had curry in it. It was good to try snap peas and smoked sausage and some other more unusal dipping things than just bread.

David preparing the fondue
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Christian showing that some of the Hood family can eat fondue without a visit to hospital
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We had a very pleasant meal together and then headed off to Jackie's to meet up with the others. There were already a handful of people at Jackies, including her boyfriend, Chris, Naomi and her siblings (who are over on holiday) and Adrian. We did a whole bunch of crazy party things like, eat m&ms, watch youtube videos and look at photos. It was definitely time for us to go out!

We headed off to the real party at 11pm and were serenaded on our arrival by a pair of (slightly half cut) fiddlers. Beers were handed round and as designated driver, Ally kindly dug out for me a yummy non-alcoholic, organic, additives-free raspberry spritzer and despite the sound of it, it was really delicious. We checked out their house, complete with freshly smashed lampshade (thanks to an overenthusiastic game of Wii tennis) and all chatted with fiddles playing away in the background.

Arriving at the party at Steve and Ally's place
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An impressive welcome at the door
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As midnight came, champagne bottles were opened and all available vessels used to distribute it. Toasts were made and then the fiddles came out again for a rendition of Auld Lang Syne. The merriment continued and we were all entertained by the guest that every good party has, that was wavering about with red wine lips and punctuating our conversations with colourful nonsense.

At Midnight
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Christian and Sarah's first appearance in 2009
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Jackie and Sarah celebrating
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Chris and Chris putting the world to rights over a beer
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Off to another party to finish the night. The entire crowd at Ally and Steve's uprooted and headed down the road to our last venue of the night. Us ski school crowd were starting to get a bit sleepy now, so after meeting a few new faces, I drove most people home to their beds and then pointed Troy up Gerry Sorensen Way and to our cosy home for sleeps.

Thursday 1st January 2009! New Years Day

Surprisingly, we again found that we got a lie in, this time for new years day and so didn't get in until the 11:30 bell. Most of the day was just the usual lessons on the hill, but in the evening we were taking our own snowshoeing tour.

Christian was going solo in the kitchen and Adrian and I were taking them on the walk. We got a cheerful bunch of about a dozen Brits, all from Bracknell, and though I didn't think my accent had changed much being here, I could feel myself getting Englisher as I chatted to them. Less"sweet", "awesome" and "bummed", more "innit", "nice one" and "knackered". The tour set off, and apart from Adrian taking us on a momentary detour as he got his bearings, it all went very nicely. I brought up the rear, picking up the various individuals who had not quite got the hang of the deep powder and ended up rolling about in the snow.

The Chocolate Fondue
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Heading back at the end of the tour
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Whilst we were having fun in the white stuff, Christian was under the kosh in the kitchen trying to prepare all the food for everyone by himself. But it all worked out fine and everyone was very happy with the food and munched it all up. So much so that we got a $20 buck tip between the 3 of us. Rather than worry over splitting it up, we took it straight to the Stemwinder and bought a jug of Kokanee Gold. Over beers we chatted with the folk at the bar, including a Brummie guy and his girlfriend who are moving to Kimberley. He used to work at the Tamworth indoor ski hill and be a pro snowboarder and so could tell us a few good tales.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 08:42 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Dynamiters cause an explosive punch up in Section O!

The Ghostriders get theirs asses whooped by the Dynamiters and their fans

snow -12 °C

Saturday 27th Dec, not sure was too busy worrying about vocabulary.

Oh My God! Liana calmly mentioned last night that I had a request private this morning. What she forgot to tell me was that it was with French speaking people who are at level 2 riding standard!!!!! With 15 minutes before class started I was running round the resort looking for a french speaker who knew the word for snowboard, ah it's "du snowboard" that's ok. But what about bindings and edges and "transfer your weight onto your front foot" and all the other posture related sentances I never had use for in Bordeaux. Agggggggggghhhhhhhh, HELP! This was going to be another "stoopiid ingleesh" moment, and I thought that was all over when I finished my placement year.

Well Mary-Lou and Jeremie turned out to be very sweet kids and were hugely helpful where my vocabulary was lacking. We all had a good time and my level 2 training out in Fernie came back to me enough to give a lesson on balance. My heart was still beating ten to the dozen as the hour finished though, and I was terrified to learn they wanted me to take them for the following 2 mornings!

The rest of the day was less stressful with two Canadian boys that only wanted me to explain things to them in English and were learning to slide on their heel edges (what a doddle!). Christian had a three hour lesson that bridged lunch and as my last shift of the day was free I went off for a ride down the back side of the hill with Trevor and Jackie. It was cool to see more of the resort, ride the other lifts and to find powder (something the main run is lacking as the volume of riders work something like a windscreen wiper on ice, removing all the fun stuff and turning all the steeps into ice sheets).

This playtime was not, however, without it's moments of tension. Approaching the Easter chair for the first time, Adrian rides down with a class of Kruisers and asks me to take one of them up the lift. "Sure thing" I say with the confident cheerful grin of an instructor. "Hey there big man, are you gonna ride the lift with me?" I say as we approach the chair lift. Lined up and ready to get on I'm smiling away at the thought of another powder run when the liftie says "You'll need to lift him up, the chair is too high". Now had I known this more than 2 seconds before the chair appeared behind my kneepits I would have been fine, however I did not. The little skier was stood behind me and so with my board strapped to my right foot I had to twist 180 degrees and lift him up at the very second that the lift scooped us up. I was sat down but as the lift left the ground my little lift mate was still dangling without his bottom on the seat. Fortunatly he wasn't heavy and so dropping him was no risk but Trevor had to reach across me to get him onto the seat. Phew! Close one!

On the lift the 3 of us played, catching snowflakes in our mouths and wisely as we approach the top I remembered that I probably ought to lift him down too. I twist round to pick him up and place him down on the run out. He slides down perfectly, no worries. I however had not got off the lift and was now suspended 6 foot in the air with children pointing, saying things like "Mummy look, there's an instructor who can't use the chair lift". Trying to still look cool I jump off the chairlift landing in a pile of powder. I was so pleased to find a group of my friends free riding who had decided to stop for a rest right by the lift. I won't be living that one down!

Powder Riding with Trevor and Jackie
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Jackie and I picked up Christian after his lesson and got one last run in before the day was over.

Tuesday 30th Dec, around -10 and pleasant

The past 2 days at the resort have been super busy. Everyone is out on the hill. We have had full days of lessons and are always tired at the end of the day. Lunches are not sacred here and Christian and I have sometimes forgotten who each other are by home time. Despite this mad rush, we are still enjoying teaching people (even the French ones) and we know we will be grateful for the wages in the quiter periods. We treated ourselves to a take-out pizza from Grubstake last night, as the Frenchies gave me a tip, and it was very yummy and there's even enough left for a couple of lunches.

This evening we had all arranged to go to the community center for the ice hockey, to watch the Kimberley Dynamiters in their local grudge match against the Fernie Ghostriders. Initially Christian and I were torn as to who to support, having watched the Riders in Fernie last year, but it doesn't take long before you feel part of the community here at Kimberley so there wasn't much competition in deciding to back our new local team.

We headed down to the Sully to meet the others for a pre-match beer and were surprised to find that the ski school had turned out quite a crowd of supporters. As their pub dinner was late in coming, Chris and I were sent ahead to save seats. With about 16 other colleagues hanging back at the pub it was going to be a job to save that many spaces. I had images of 2 benches covered in coats, hats, jumpers and jeans with 2 cold, naked English folk shivering at the end of the rows.

Chris and I in our seats
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We arrived and stood in the long queue outside to buy a ticket, I wish I'd worn my longjohns! Hoping we hadn't chosen the away side, we found a couple of empty rows and tried to look rather angry and slightly unhinged in the hope that people wouldn't sit next to us and in preference to the naked option.

The game had just started and the Dynamiters were already 1-0 up, a good start. The others began to arrive and the first quarter (the first quarter out of three, go figure!) ended with us 3-1 up. In the first break we were entertained with what appeared to be a regular game of Puck Toss. This involved a sign on the ice and then all the fans throwing their lucky numbered pucks at the sign and the one closest at the end of the game won. What us British folk didn't understand is why the winner would want to hold the title of Puck Tosspot, the Canadians didn't seem to find this a problem. This weeks lucky tosspot kindly donated some of the winnings back to the Dynamiters.

Anna, Kathy and Chris at the hockey
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The Puck Toss Pot!?!
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The second quarter was less interesting with no further scoring, but I was sat next to a couple of Canadians and so tried to learn a few of the rules. In addition to the 3 quarters, ice hockey has other rather odd rules: your team can get a penalty if they let the puck go icy (quite problematic in a game played on an ice rink one might think). However, we found that this is when the puck crosses the two blue lines on the rink without a pass. There are 3 referees but I never quite worked out why they need so many. Players change on and off continually for no better reason, as far as I could work out, than that they have no stamina. And if people misbehave, (which can include tripping, slamming and full punches in the face from what we saw) they get put in the sin bin, but they can put as many of their team mates on to replace them, so not much of a punishment if you ask me.

Some of the action
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The third and final quarter was the best yet! We had sat back down with a bowl of poutine (chips, cheese and gravy) to watch Fernie fight back for the game. And they got it back to 3 all with only 9 minutes to go! Kimberley weren't going to sit back and take it and their players (with awesome names like "Gutfriend") fought hard to save themselves from the inconvenience of a fourth quarter (you only get them if the third quarter ends with a draw). After lots of slamming into walls and referees, the Dynamiters pulled it back, 5-3 and only 1 minute to go!! The Ghostriders were furious and started smacking the glass at the taunting fans. Empty beer cans were being thrown on the rink and then a call came over the tannoy " Security to Section O!". The Fernie and Kimberley fans had kicked off and were having a fist fight in the stands. The fight grew, more announcements came "Security to Section N!". It was great, it was like being at a football match in London, and there was me thinking the North Americans were too proper to make sport any fun.

By the time security had visited most of the second half of the alphabet and double checked the vowels, both teams of players had been removed from the ice for safety and with 15 seconds still remaining on the clock they cut the game short. What fun! We went home to bed, very pleased that we had gone to the match.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 12:10 Archived in Canada Tagged events Comments (0)

Christmas sneaks up on Kimberley

How an annual holiday, talked about months in advance managed to take us by surprise.

sunny -12 °C

Tues 23 The antepenultimate day before Christmas: -12 Sunny

The money makers were out en force this morning with Christian in a 2 hour private request with Kira and me in a 1 hour private request with my girl from yesterday too. At 11:30am I then finished off the A&W classes. The kids seemed much more cheery and were, by this point, all making it up the T-bar (on their boards) and riding a lot more confidently. At the end of their session they all got suckers and candy canes and I had to write them all report cards with encouraging phrases such as "Awesome riding little buddy" and "Nice turns, keep rippin' up that snow!". It obviously worked as I got my first tip!!

Christian on the other hand had got landed with the Kimberley Kruisers, kids that ride with you all day and need supervising over lunch. On the upside, his one student was an increadibly cute and crazy little 6-year old who liked nothing better than to point his board straight down the slope (so maybe not that big an upside). At lunch, Christian enjoyed a snowball fight with the snowboard and ski Kruisers and by the end of the day he was told that they would be best friends forever. Though the day was more about not letting his student kill himself or other people, rather than really teaching anything, Christian did enjoy some classic conversations with his little ripper such as: being told the kids were the brave knight and princess in the snowball fight, whilst Christian was the monster; how he wanted to go to Arabia to ride on a real magic carpet and how if the learning slope was a bunny hill then the T-bar must be a rabbit hill and the chair lift is a hare!

I, on the other hand, had no lessons and so chatted to Nic the liftie as we high fived all the people coming up the magic carpet and serenaded them with Christmas songs! Is it really Christmas Eve tomorrow!?!

Wed 24 Christmas Eve: -19 Sunny then overcast then snowy

Christian is getting too successful for my liking, with another 2 hour requested private with Kira this morning. I hope the money and status doesn't go to his head! We both had more, enthusiastic students in group lessons throughout the morning, including one little guy from my A&W club who came back for some more improvement.

Starting to teach turning
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It is good being part of the ski school as people seem to be bringing in Christmas treats for us all now and so we had the choice of cherry sugar cookies and a snowman cake at lunchtime. We were surprised to find out that tomorrow we get a lie in from work and don't have to be in until the 11:30 bell.

With the afternoon off, we both went for a ride with Jackie (who's house we are going to for dinner tomorrow) and saw santa and an elf heading up the slopes. As we rode down I got a bit of air! It's crazy that we've been here for a couple of weeks now and have hardly had a chance to ride by ourselves and improve our riding. We are both feeling pretty confident with our teaching skills now but I still feel like the weakest link when we go for a free ride with the other instructors.

Back home, I made another cake and some brownies to take to Jackie's for Christmas dinner, whilst Chris did secret squirrel stuff in the bedroom. Our last minute preparations are VERY last minute, can't believe tomorrow is Christmas day!

Our tasty treats
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Thurs 25th Christmas day! Around -12, Perfect, sunshine and snowfall.

So much for the lie in. I was up at 6:45am to see if Santa had come and then open my stocking. Christian woke up a little more reluctantly, but got more excited when he found that Father Christmas had left a trail of silver hearts that led him to his pressies. Satsumas, socks, colouring pens and a whole load of chocolate later we got up to call the Diggens family in the UK. We got to see the folks, the bros and Grandma too and send our Christmas wishes.

Opening our stockings
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Then off to work. We had dressed up in santa hats to look nice and festive on the hill for the day.
Christmas Day work outfits
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My Root Bear student was back again and it was so good to see him turning on the Owl T-bar by the end of the lesson. He finished with a big, satisfied grin on his face and so did I with a Christmas tip. Christian milked his cash cow at 1pm with another private with Kira and was also really impressed to see her turning confidently as they rode up the chairlift and down the main run!

Further improvement from my student
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Everyone was in a cheerful mood out on the hill and the sun broke through the clouds, making the falling snowflakes sparkle as we experienced our first white Christmas. It was a really lovely day and felt so nice to be out in the fresh air making other people happy rather than just over-indulging all day.

Anna teaching her little pink girl
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I picked up a private in the afternoon and as it finished early I popped back over to the magic carpet to see if I could help out any of the other guys as the day was pretty busy. I helped out Jackie with an English student who was progressing faster than the rest of her group and at the end of the lesson everyone who was in from the snowboard school went for a ride down the main together. As the 6 of us rode down we felt like a real team and looked like instructors all riding fast and confidently. It's nice that it is starting to all come together.

Archie and Jackie teaching on the bunny hill
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We headed home to open our presents to each other before dinner at Jackie's. First of all we Skyped the Hood household in Oz to catch up on what they'd been up to for Christmas. It was very exciting giving each other gifts in turn with Christmas music playing. I was particularly looking forward to seeing the secretive presents Chris had been making for me! Christian received some snowboarding gear, a new wallet (that he still can't resist smelling because of the leather) and a plastic bumboard. I got some snow related gifts too but also my homemade pressies! They were both models of me and Chris. One set were made in clay and are of us two in our snowboarding gear. The other 2 are soft little felt people in jeans and a t-shirt.

Opening my presents
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My snowboarding clay people
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With no time to spare we headed straight out to Jackie's. I drove down to Townsite (the other side of town) and with constant snowfall from the day the roads were slippy and as I turned a left I could feel the back end swinging out (I will be a countersteer expert by the end of the season). If that wasn't bad enough they lived at the end of a long, narrow, snowy drive and there were 3 of our trucks parked at the end of it. Leaving was going to be entertaining.

The foreigners enjoying being looked after at Christmas
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At Jackies, we all laid out our offerings of sweet snacks and then sat down for the great meal. A bit of faultering from most of us over saying Grace but no problems with piling our plates high with delicious home cooked food. The stuffing was just fab with everything imaginable thrown in: sausages, onions, celery, cranberries, cashew nuts and more. I have also found a new passion for creamed peas on top of my mashed potato, very yummy! The turkey played its part and soon made us all feel fat and sleepy and so we moved into the lounge to rest our swollen yet satisfied bellies.

The boys looking eagerly at the spread
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My delicious dinner
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Despite all the eating done so far we had lots more food to get through! Once we had started to digest the turkey, Jackie's mum offered us all pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and feeling way too full at this point we all said "Yes Please!". It was really delicious! As my first taste of pumpkin pie, I wasn't sure what to expect but it was really cinnamonny and creamy.

Eating up the pumpkin pie
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By now most of us were lying on the floor to fit the food inside us with minimal pain, Chris on the other hand tucked into all the goodies on the coffee table. There were our brownies and chocolate cake, peanut butter balls from Naomi, cookies, chocolate fudge and pastry twists from Anna and Jackie had made this massive tray of caramel pecan popcorn. The boys had brought the alcohol and mixers for the big bucket of Sangria everyone had got through at the dinner table (except for me).

All the goodies everyone brought
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We had had a great night and though the whole day had been a million miles away from our traditional family Christmases it hadn't spoilt the occasion at all.

I drove us both home and as we got back around 11.30pm and the lights were still on in the main house we knocked on to wish the Jacson 8 a Merry Christmas. In their usual laid back and friendly style they asked us in for a drink and so we spent the last half hour of our Christmas chatting away with our landlords before heading off to bed.

Friday 26th Boxing Day,

Back to work and another family holiday spent in quite a different way to usual. We both started the day with 2 hour request privates so we should have enough pennies stored now if Jan turns out to be a very quiet month. Then 3 more hours each in the afternoon with various kids. My longest days teaching so far!

And to add to the long day we had volunteered ourselves to rookie the snowshoeing fondue tour that evening. Whilst we wouldn't get paid for tonight, it will train us to take these tours ourselves in future and they pay 40 bucks each for 2 hours work (which to us is quite good pay!). Christian went on the warm, tasty part of the trip: straight to the Kootenay House to prepare the fondue with Anna and Anali. Whilst I, on the other hand, strapped on some snowshoes and went with Sam and Liana, trudging through knee deep powder in the dark for half an hour.

Sam trail blazing through the thick powder
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Heading up the chair lift at night was a new (rather chilly) experience and heading back down again was to be even more fun as you can look out at the lights of Kimberley, which Christian noted look like a brontosaurus. Walking out in the snow was good fun, but pretty tiring on the legs. Trailblazing will be a bit of a challenge when I do this for real as not only am I short enough that each step will come up to my armpits with snow, but I also have to remember this route across the backcountry, through the trees, all in the dark! Christian was experiencing his own anxieties as the 3 of them had just finished preparing the fondue when we arrived and next time he has to do it all on his own! We both had a great time though and enjoyed tasting the melty chocolate with banana and pretzels as a treat.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 14:19 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

To instruct or not to instruct, that is the question!?!

Our first taste of teaching

sunny -28 °C

Friday 19th: -25ish Overcast

It was the first day of the resort being open and so therefore our first real day at work. However it was freezing. We got very excited in the morning, as we had been told that all of the runs immediately next to the main had been opened. This meant the run count had increased from two (the main and the magic carpet) to about 13.

We started off our day with the 9 o'clock team meeting with Liana, where we were told about our days off. Me and Sarah had been given the weekends off together and Liana seems very reasonable about letting us have other days off if we want to go on a road trip or something. However at the moment we just want to teach some lessons and earn some money.

As such, we eagerly turned up at the meeting post ready to (hopefully) teach our first lesson of the day. However no one was there. Thinly veiling our glee at getting to ride the new runs and the powder that lay in wait upon them, we headed up the lift. Together with fellow instructors, Trevor and Dan, we reaquainted ourselves with our good friend powder riding. It took a little while to readjust our riding so that we kept moving through the thick, untouched, white stuff, but we were soon surfing across fluffy pillows of snow and catching air off small mounds.

We were really enjoying the snowboarding and getting to explore more of the mountian but it was just so cold that after three runs we had to go down and warm up our toes. By the time we were cosy and warm again it was time to head back out for the next bell. We turned up happy to have quenched our thirst for powder and anxious to teach our first students. But there were none. This was getting less funny now. Still we headed off for another run to see if our toes had warmed up properly.

Rather than exploring the new snowfields, I challenged Sarah to go down the entire main run in switch (backwards). Despite getting stuck on the flat at the very top we both made it down successfully and were happy to see that we had got better at this rather difficult skill. However, we were not so happy to find that our toes were still being tempremental. We headed in again and got distracted by a game of cards with the ski instructors, which kept us inside until the next lesson bell.

Getting nervous now, we arrived at the snowboard post to check for lessons. None again. Paying rent is going to prove difficult if this is a normal day. We took it upon ourselves to enjoy a few more powder runs before heading home.

Saturday 20th: -30 Sunny

We started off Saturday with big hopes. It was community day in Kimberley and as such the ski school was giving away 12 free beginner lessons and they were also starting a four day camp for kids called the A&W Root Bear class. It was another freezing day, even colder than yesterday and so we thought that we might be pushed for lessons but hopefully the clear skys, shining sun and free lessons would lure them in. We arrived at the meeting post for the first bell of the day only to be sorely disappointed. Still no lessons. Was it ever going to happen? On the up side we did find out that one little girl had signed up for the camp and so it was likely that Sarah would get an opportunity to teach her later today.

The time until the next bell was taken up with doing a few runs but we were very keen to be down at the meeting post ready for our first potential lesson. At last, the flood gates had opened. Sarah did get an opportunity to teach the A&W Root Bear camp, with both the original girl who had signed up and another little boy. However, the suprise came when there were two other lessons. And so taking our fate into our own hands (as neither of the experienced instructors were around) we divided up the lessons and headed off for our first experience of teaching.

Whilst Sarah was off teaching her two children, I had been partnered up with an adult woman. It was an incredibly interesting experience to see someone who has never been on a snowboard before advance to the point where they are navigating across the hill comfortably on their own. It felt very rewarding to watch as someone else fell in love with snowboarding because of what I had said and done.

Going up the magic carpet
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It was very entertaining teaching my two children, not least because the girls board was made of plastic with no edges and looked like it had been picked up from Toys R Us or outside a gas station, and thus left her stationary unless she pointed it directly down the hill. The little boy on the other hand had been fully kitted out in all new gear including a rather fetching one piece (I wanted to tell him that he'd never cut it as a snowboarder in a snug fitting onesie, but as he was only 8 I thought that might be a bit mean!). I got through the lesson with fun being had by all, despite it being more like a child minding job than true instruction.

Mitch the liftie making banter at the top of the magic carpet
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After both of our lessons we headed in for a much shorter lunch than usual before rushing back out to be in time for the next bell. This was beginning to feel more like a real job. Luckily the flood gates remained open and the afternoon saw us both teaching again. Sarah had a mother and daughter both a lot older than her previous students whilst I had an Australian guy of a similar age to me. We both completed our lessons and after agreeing, over a hot chocolate, that different students create very different dynamics within a lesson, we headed home.

Sunday 21st: -30 overcast and light snow.

The morning of Sunday saw a return to the usual proceedings. We turned up bright and early to pick up what we hoped would be a continual flow of lessons, only to find we had returned to having none. So in order to keep with tradition, me and Sarah headed in for a hot chocolate. However, we were never to make it. As we walked down towards the staff locker room we ran into the two women whom Sarah had taught in the afternoon yesterday. They had signed up for another lesson but had been late getting up to the meeting post for first bell. Sarah agreed to take them again and I retuned to the staff room to wait out until the next lessons.

Except for a brief interruption from a cold-footed Sarah requesting I go and buy some toe warmers for her, I was pleasantly suprised to see my Aussie student had returned for another go. Sarah and I were both teaching at this point as she had her A&W camp again today and would for the next 3 days. The difference was that today she had an extra student, another little boy and cousin of the first.

Explaining an exercise to the girls
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It was great to have the girls from yesterday back for another session. It proved they had enjoyed themselves and gave me a chance to move them forwards through the progression. They were both comfortable falling in the snow and this lack of fear helped them to progress at pace. It is fun to see how much of a rapport you can build with people in a couple of hours and the 3 of us were laughing and joking away as the lesson went on.

Giving a demo
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After a tiring morning with no breaks and a rushed lunch, we were both fairly relieved to have no lessons in the afternoon and be able to go home at two so that we could do some more preparations for Christmas.

Monday 22nd: -15 overcast with light snow.

The days are beginning to fall into a regular pattern with the 3 bells breaking up the day and forming the structure of when we must be around. We have got into the routine of lunching in the staff area and have made good friends with the other staff, particularly the other instructors. So much so that we have been invited to one of their houses for Christmas dinner. Jackie has been really kind and her Mum and her are catering for all of us family-free foreigners. We will all bring things with us to eat and drink and have a festive party together! This really helps me as the prospect of cooking a Christmas dinner after work was a bit daunting. I have no intention of getting out of it altogether though. On our first day off, Chris and I will have our Christmas meal together.

Today's lessons taught me (Sarah) how to get 2 small children on snowboards up a T-bar lift. The answer is, with difficulty! Whilst I can empathise with how scary it is trying this tricky lift for the first few times, there is something unforgivably comical about watching someone determined to get up to the top of the hill even if it means being dragged up by their armpit being pulled along on their face in the snow gathering bamboo canes between their legs as they went. I did however manage to stop chuckling for just long enough to shout "Let Go!".

My early morning lesson was far less amusing but far more productive as I had a one-on-one with an 11 year-old girl who had a real natural talent. She was a pleasure to work with as she was interested, good and fun to chat with too. And as the lesson came to an end she even said the magic words of "more privates" and "I want you to instruct again". This could mean a few private request lessons, for which we get paid 50% of the lesson cost, 2-3 times more than any other lessons! Nice!

Whilst Sarah was taking her private in the morning I had a normal class with a girl of about 18. She is in Kimberley for Christmas with lots of her family who were also learning on the bunny hill. The lesson was quite similar to my previous ones, progressing at a fair rate through the beginner skills. The difference came, however, in that this was the first time I had ever had to think about the technique for standing up. As Sarah found too, there are some very amusing moments to being a snowboard instructor, another of which is watching someone slide down a hill trying to stand up and as they finally manage it, realising they're already at the bottom.

Helping a student down the hill
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The day continued in a particularly good way as well. Fellow new recruit Trevor was supposed to be going home for Christmas today and as such I agreed to take a class at 12:30 so he could leave early. And boy am I glad I did. It was a regular 2 hour private with a 12 year old girl called Kira. There was nothing of much interest that happened but Kira definately seemed excited about learning to snowboard and this was clearly obvious to her Dad who immediately booked her in for another 2 hour private with me the next day. This meant loads of money for me!!! Yay!

Explaining the next skill to be practiced
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Riding down the bunny slope our new home from home
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With a free afternoon we headed home to do a food shop and whilst Christian shopped for some last minute christmas gifts, I headed to the Sully for a coffee. Inside I bumped into Adrian, Chris, Naomi and Jackie who were all grabbing dinner we had a couple of drinks with them and a good chat. The topic of conversation was McDuff, an accentric fellow working for the ski school. He was a bit of a big deal back in the mid-sixties and has never forgotten it, as such he has rubbed a few folk up the wrong way by acting like anyone under the age of 50 wouldn't know how to blow their own noses yet. The chat was all in good spirits and we got back onto the plans for Christmas.

Heading home for a curry, we returned to find that the Jacobs have arrived and we now have a rather clumpy, early-rising bunch of landlords living above us for the Christmas period. It will be good to see them on the slopes tomorrow.

Posted by HOODnDIGS 17:42 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The calm before the festive storm

Our week of captivity in the house

sunny -25 °C

Monday 15th: -25/-30C ish, bright

Up till now on our trip Mum and Dad have been very good, always a smiling face and a great help with information. But today they reached their limit! We have just gather too many bits of paper and magnet Mum and magnet Dad fell off the fridge. We have reduced the burden on them and they have returned to their cheerful, helpful selves.

Magnet Mum and Dad looking after the paperwork
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As we now have 4 days before work starts in earnest, Monday was a bit of a lazy day. We have some Christmas things to sort out but nothing too pressing. After a few hours of internet and chores, we decided that we really ought to get dressed before the sun went down and would get out in the clear, bright day to find some fir cones and other bits and bobs to make into Christmas decorations for the tree.

We wrapped up warm and headed outside. Having not used it for a few days, the back path was a foot deep with snow and despite my best efforts to make big footprints with my boots, Christian's skate shoes still filled with snow. By the time we had trekked the 5 yards down the path, we had concluded that minus 30 is not a good temperature in which to take an afternoon stroll. Anyhow we decided to see if we could find any baubles sticking out of the foot deep snow and 50 yards down the path (and about 5 yards before turning around to head back to the warmth of the house) we spotted a few laden branches poking their heads above the carpet of powder. Better equipped for trudging through the knee deep cold stuff (even though it would have only been shin deep for Chris) I ventured in and snapped off dead branches and cones until my fingers were numb. Sharing the burden we headed back home.

Forraging for fir cones in amongst the tall trees
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Wow, the warmth of the house was almost scorching and our noses went a Rudolphesque red. If that was the effect that 5 minutes had had on us, how was poor Troy going to be after a whole night of it?

Rudolph back in from the cold
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True to his name, Troy was a real trojan, and when we went down to start him up he grumbled into action despite the lack of block heater. Motor running we decided to go down to the hardwear store to reward our 8-cylindered chum. However, it was not to be. The hardware store was out of block heater cables and won't have more in until mid-week. Sorry Troy, you'll have to bit chilly a bit longer!

As we were in town we checked out a few new shops and went into the Dollar Store (I still want to call it Poundland) and picked up some cheap lights and beads for the tree. We had also picked up a can of copper spray paint in the hardware store for our mornings foragings. We took a quick drive round town before heading home, to warm up Troy and see all the Christmas lights.

Kimberley the Christmas town
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Back home, we decorated the tree with lights, beads and the decorations brought from home. Then we made snowflakes for the ceiling and more tree decs out of sweet wrappers, all the time listening to Christmas music. We will be working on Christmas Day but I'm starting to get a bit excited!

Putting up our Tree
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Christian crafting Christmas creations
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Taking on Christians role of wearing the Christmas decs
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Tuesday 16th: -? we didn't leave the house

Again, not the most hectic of days but we still managed to wrap / make some presents for each other (mine look really nice and I can't wait to give them!), spray paint our fir cones and make some more snowflakes.

The best part of the day was in the afternoon when we made a chocolate cake! Using an online recipe and some rather Heath Robinson methods for measuring ingredients we spent a happy hour dusting ourselves with flour and slopping ourselves with cake mix. I think we possibly overdid it on the sugar helpings but hopefully it will still come out ok.

Lots of mixing
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Whilst waiting for the cake to bake we discussed what we could have for dinner, and I set the challenge that perhaps Chris could make it. Imediately suggestions of microwave noodles and pasta with sauce were offered but neither of us were really in the mood for that. So we decided to come up with a homegrown recipe to use up our leftovers. The result of which was: grilled chicken breasts with a herb and tomato crust, fried banana, boiled potatoes and green beans.

The cake came out of the oven and looked ok so we chucked it in a corner to cool and started our next culinary experiment. Christian made a good head chef and I peeled potatoes beautifully! There were some rather hectic moments in the proceedings but the end result was quite yummy. Now dessert would obviously have to be cake, but not until it was finished.

We cut the cake in half and lathered it in home made butter icing and then tried to entertain ourselves as it warmed back up from its time in the fridge...

The finished masterpiece
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1 and a half episodes of Ally McBeal later (yes we stopped it half way through for cake) we couldn't wait any longer and cut ourselves a slice. Crunchy on the outside but moist and springy in the middle we had somehow fallen our way into making the yummiest cake ever. However, the cake did have 1 side effect! It contained about half a kilo of sugar (which is quite impressive for a cake weighing less than half a kilo) and so within about 5 minutes we were both giggling like 13 year olds on shandy. Several very silly conversations later we went to bed!

Wednesday 17th: - 25C, sprinklings of snow

Writing the blog whilst practicing for going outside
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We spent the morning writing up our blog. This is a picture of me doing the blog last Saturday night whilst working out how to make a balaclava out of a buff.

We have taken the cones we collected and sprayed them all copper so that we can hang them on the tree. The spray can said best used at around 15-30 degrees C so we were only about 50 degrees out! Fortunately the paint seems to have worked ok and the deer didn't come down and eat the cones so we just need to put them on the tree now.

Sorting out the cone collection
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Third time lucky we headed down the hill in Troy to try and get him his much needed block heater cable and hurrah, this time we succeeded. The driving is feeling a lot more natural now and I'm even happy bumping over the snow. We looked into a few more of the shops in town, partly to look at their cool hoodies and t-shirts and wish we had some money and partly to break up the cold walk back to the car. We the drove on through town to the public swimming pool, where we found we were the only people. The lifeguard hadn't even turned up for her shift yet.

The pool was good fun with a big pool for doing lengths (I did a dozen or so just to feel I was being healthy) with a diving board, a warm pool with a lazy river to float round and a basketball net, a whirlpool hot tub and a steam room. Not bad for 5 bucks!

The spanner shaped lazy river
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We spent 2 hours in the pool and made use of almost everything. After the sensible lengths we messed about in the warm pool going round the lazy river which actually moves quite fast. We also went in the hot tub which is big enough for 20 people but goodness knows when they actually get that many people in it! It was really hot and made jumping back into the cold pool pretty nasty. Christian even got me on the diving board though I built up to it slowly as I was pretty scared of it.

Starting of with a cautious jump
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Mr No Fear flys off the board
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A first dive, aren't I brave!
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To finish off we had a game of basketball, which slowly disintegrated into Dodgeball with balls flying at each others head, though with a lifeguard each by this point , we felt pretty safe. In the changing room I bumped into Anna, one of the new ski instuctors and found out that she has been using up these days off baking too. Sounds like her cookies are almost gone, but I'm hoping she has enough of tonights pumpkin pie left to bring some in for us on Friday!

Basketball
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After our swim we headed home for a fajita dinner and watched a cool movie, Vantage Point before heading to bed.

Thursday 18th -15 (getting warmer) light snow

Christian is feeling a bit under the weather and so I spent a lot of today doing laundry and cleaning and other boring things you don't want to read about, whilst my little invalid lay on the sofa trying to be helpful by looking up info on Kimberley online.

Here are some pics of the progress we have made with our Christmas decs:

Our snowflakes
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The tree with lights
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In the afternoon I went down to the shops to pick up some essentials and have a look for things for Christmas. In the meantime, Christian, now feeling better, stayed in to make some more of my Christmas present and do other very secretive things! Down to town was a little scarier than usual as it was snowing with a few fresh centimeters on the ground, it was getting dark and I had no passenger for moral support. I was pleased with myself when I managed to park up the big boy solo and enjoyed a couple of hours strolling round town in what felt like quite pleasant weather after the past week of -25ish. It is still probably 10 degrees colder than anything you guys are getting in the UK. As usual the local shop keepers were hugely helpful and friendly though no one can help me find a net bag to wash my Reg Grundys in!

Back up the hill and I managed to park Troy in the garage all by myself without taking out the shelving unit, the stairs or any of the other brightly coloured obstacles that I guess are used to entertain the kids when they are here.

It was nice today that I got an e-mail from Mum and one from Dad and caught Glen and Sarah on Skype in the morning, so almost a full house of family contact. Hello Adam!

Early bed again tonight before we head back to school tomorrow. Most people love the weekends because it means time off work. We can't wait for it as it means going back to work!!

Posted by HOODnDIGS 10:40 Archived in Canada Tagged food Comments (0)

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