Canada Travel Diary: Day 7 – 06/04/15

I feel like keeping a journal is becoming a chore. It’s covered with scruffy handwriting, words I can’t even make out due to the hand cramps.

I have no idea where we went today, I took note of a few places we passed, but that’s about it. Bob, Fran and I drove to numerous places to find the wild horses. I got promoted to the front of the car, so I wouldn’t get left behind again, which is also a bonus as I can see out more of windows.

The majority of the day is spent driving in the car do the different locations. Bob said you could drive the length of the UK all the miles we put in. I can see his point, you can drive for miles and miles out here, not passing any towns or houses, whereas back home you would. I mean we have not passed a single gas station out here. I wonder what happens if they run out of fuel?

Thing is, I don’t mind the long drives, as it is something I have always loved; looking out windows, watching the world pass by and keeping a look out for wildlife of course. Thus, this is what I did on this journey.  As soon as we left a whopping great big bird flew over the jeep. Spreading its wings, it soared overhead.

A Bald Eagle. It was huge! And so close, you could see its big menacing beak! It’s a shame I didn’t have my camera out. How unfortunate, as I saw 2 Bald Eagles today and no one will ever believe I’ve seen one now.

En route we saw loads of wolf tracks and when I say loads, I mean loads; I would love to see a pack of wolves out here!

In actual fact we saw a number of different tracks today. Because of the recent snowfall it’s easy to spot. Wolves, Moose, Cougar and Pine Martin were the tracks we saw today, along with a Golden Eagle and a Flicker which is a type of woodpecker.

Back to the journey…

Looking out for signs to give an indication to where we are heading, I noticed we passed Bearberry. Not long after, we pull into a forestry area, and spot three horses immediately close to some trees. The bay stallion looked like he’d been in the wars to protect his mares, scars covering his body. We carry on in this area and come across three more horses, all bays again. They were on the edge of the road in a snowy area, which was great, and then it started snowing. Luckily I managed to get some snaps before it got too heavy. As we left, directly opposite we spotted a chestnut stuck in a power line area, so Fran and Bob opened the fence up so he could find his way out.

Moving on we entered this massive forest and didn’t see horses for what felt like hours. We took various paths and eventually found them in a little valley area where the grass was sparse. The strange was we’d driven past areas with loads of grass, yet no horses! In this area we saw 3 young studs. It was a lovely spot for pictures and created a lovely background with beautiful light. I’m glad they played ball and posed as some of my favourite images come from this area.

Considering the amount of miles we put it, we saw very few horses. It’s funny how they are getting culled because ‘there’s too many’. From about 2pm-5pm we saw none. We even went off-roading up this steep hill, (“Hold onto your hats people” was Fran’s Quote), which was a little hairy, but the view was fantastic.

After a long day I was dropped back at the hotel and rang a Sarah whom moved out here 10 years ago from London. It was recommended I get in touch with her by Bob and Fran so I did that this evening and ended up going out to dinner with her and her family. It was a lovely meal and really nice to eat with people instead of alone.

 

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Canada Travel Diary: Day 3 – 02/04/15

It’s been a hell of a long day, I’m exhausted and it’s only 2 pm. The weather was on my side once again thankfully and this morning was spent at Calgary Zoo.

I suppose one of the upsides to not having a car is walking to the places and being able to stop easily along the way. The walk to the zoo was great once I got away from the main road as it led me along the river.  The river water amazes me; it’s a dazzling aqua blue and crystal clear. It’s magnificent.

One of the benefits I’ve found by travelling solo is I can do what I want and when I want. I can leave the house whenever I want and not have to wait for other people to get ready. Plus, whilst at the zoo, I found I can move around the enclosures in my own time, as I like to read the signs and spend time watching the animals, as usually others don’t like to read and tend to move on as soon as they have caught a glimpse of the animal.

Now that I’d spent the majority of the morning at the zoo and I must say my favourite part was the Canadian Wilds section which is great as they have information on the various habitats, what lives there, and a display of the animals found in the various regions. It really led you on a journey and it was great to see the Canadian Wildlife (even if it was in enclosures).

I did also fall for the photogenic Gorilla in the African section as he/she really posed for the camera, much to the delight of a school class watching. It’s amazing how alike humans they are though one did eat off the floor!

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Photogenic Gorilla

Some brave House Sparrows approached me at lunch and tried to steal parts of my food. Much to their dismay, they were unsuccessful, until I emptied my crumbs.

***

I set out on the one of the bikes from the shed at the B&B and followed the Elbow River Pathway, hoping to make it to Weaselhead Natural Area, an hour’s bike ride away apparently.

This bike felt strange; when turning it moved too quick and felt kind of loose, but it was the only one in the shed my size. At least, the seat was comfy! I’ll go slowly I thought to myself, that way if I fall, it won’t be too bad.

This is so relaxing by the river apart from going up those dreaded hills.  I got distracted by woodpeckers, squirrels and rabbits along the route. I’d been going for quite awhile and had to take many detours away from the river due to erosion and work on the riverbank.

Passing big rich houses like the ones you see in the movies, I drooled, they are lush. I really want to take a peek inside one.

Uh oh….the path ahead is closed and it’s pointing up a very big twisty hill. I am not biking up that. I managed to get a quarter of the way before hopping off and walking to the top. Taking a seat to catch my breath, I look at the view. Wow. Directly below is the blue river, twisting and turning. Behind that, an array of posh houses and mansions, with tall dark conifers and brown land stretching into the distance, until the mountains fill the horizon. What a view.

I carry on biking and stop at a map. I’m half way and I’ve been over an hour. I’m never going to make it in time and it’s starting to get dark. I carry on for a bit and it starts to snow. Great, I’ve come out in a thick fleece and fingerless gloves. I sigh and turn around; I guess I should head back.

Jeez! My legs are killing; it’s a good job I turned around. I ploughed on through the light snow and about 20 minutes from the B&B the snow suddenly got heavier, thicker and more pellet-like. It’s a blizzard.

I’m trembling, frozen and my legs are burning; I want to give up.

I push on, against the wind. My face hurts and can’t feel my fingers. I feel like I’m going to hurl.

I will my legs to bike faster.

Success! I finally reach the B&B. Frozen I fumble around and put the bike away and rush inside for a cup of tea and a nice warm bath.

Note to self: Always take an extra layer, whatever the weather.

Community I.T Session 1 2013

Wednesday 13th February 2013 held the first community IT session of the year run by volunteer project leaders, Hattie, Louise, Jack, Nathan and Richard and other volunteers.

Although sessions are aimed at the elderly all ages are welcome to attend if they have little or no basic knowledge of IT. Several members of the community turned up to the session, a fantastic result. Hattie delivered a short presentation introducing the session and what it aimed to achieve. As well as introducing the volunteers of course. Volunteers began the session while Louise and Richard began writing this short article about the session. The atmosphere in the room was one of vibrancy and relaxation giving voice to the feeling within.

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The above pictures show volunteers teaching I.T to the community.

Sylvia, one of the attendants of the session described the session as constructive and helpful in meeting what she came to learn about.

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Above left: Jack teaching I.T to Sylvia. Above Right: Richard asking for feedback from Syliva.

Sue said she found the session socially enjoyable and helpful in dragging back up memories of how to use a computer.IMG_3869IMG_3893

Above left: Mari teaching Sue I.T. Above right: Richard interviewing Sue about the session.

Alan, found Nathan’s explanation of the updated version of word useful.

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Above Left: Nathan teaching I.T to Alan. Above Right: Richard asking for Alans feedback on the session.

John, who had never used a computer before in his life, said it was a new experience engaging in learning about how computers work.

After the session had ended Richard and Louise caught up with the Project leaders and other volunteers to find out how they felt the session went. Here are their opinions:

Nathan thought the session went really good and felt Alan benefited well from the session as he wanted to brush up on his skills. Nathan felt that Alan was engaging well with the content of the session.

Jack enjoyed the session and said it was a good experience. He enjoyed the session a lot.

Mari described the session as a grand and wonderful experience.

Hattie believes John made a significant improvement by the end of the session and believes the experience to have been a valuable one.

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Above: Richard wrapping the session up.

The session ended with a casual chat over tea and biscuits. From Louise and Richard’s perspective the session was an invigorating experience for everyone. We felt the session went to plan and we are looking forward to the next session.

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Above left: Richard typing away final article. Above right: Louise writing draft article.

Article by Louise Groom and Richard Mason.

Photography: Louise Groom (www.facebook.com/louisegroomphotography)

Dalston 09/02/13

Today I embarked on my second  walk to Dalston. The first time I remember it being finely beautiful as it was snowing and the whole walk was a pretty site, it really did take my breath away. Today however was a bit of a gloomy day. Nevertheless the river was still an appealing site with its crystal clear water with hints of blue reminding me of them scenes in films where there is a blue tinge to a secluded natural pool. I rather fancied a dip if it wasn’t winter. Whilst walking I was scanning the river for Otters and the grasslands for Buzzards, I didn’t have much luck with these. There was plenty of dippers dipping the river though!

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I reached Dalston a wet mess from the drizzling rain my yeti slightly soggy feeling like a wet sheep (I think I looked like one too). As soon as I walked from under the Church archway I sighed a sigh of relief. It looked the same as it had done a few weeks ago minus the snow. People bustling around, popping in and out of the bakery, smiling and talking to each other. I headed straight for the field the horses were in (typical I know). I started off shooting in colour but wasn’t happy with the outcome as they just looked boring and bleak. I changed to black and white which I feel worked better as this represented the murky weather and the slight misery lingering in the air, the horses looked none too pleased with the weather, their wet coat clamped together. After this I thought I’d see what the bakery had to offer and sit on a wet bench and just think over lunch.

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After lunch I shot some black and white pictures of Dalston before heading back on the  5 mile walk back to Carlisle. I set off at a brisk pace to warm up as I’d gotten a little chilly but this pace didn’t last for long as I was too busy finding things to stand in awe at and just look and think wow. Most of this was in fact the river but just looking at it at different angles at the water’s edge made me stand and gawp and think just how tranquil it was, I can only begin to visualize how this river would look in the summer if it’s already capturing me on a gloomy day.

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After numerous stops along the river I finally reached Carlisle. I started to walk back on a path slowly veering away from the river when I woman walking her dogs started speaking to me, asking if I’d got any good shots, then saying about the Kingfishers and where I can find them, she also mentioned the otters but she’s never seen one. She then told me about the floods and we walked back having a good natter before we parted ways. Well I suppose there’s not much else to say after this as the tranquillity I’d experienced by the river today disappeared as I hit the town where there was plenty of people to create some noise, though at this point I was trundling home, dragging my legs as they had gotten somewhat heavy at this part of the walk.

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What I’ve learnt today is that it’s nice to get away from civilisation and just walk and think. Even though photography wise I didn’t get anything amazing. It was a jolly good walk!

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