Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York, New York (part 2) + 35 Days!

I know this final blog is a tad overdue... but at least I have a few decent excuses this time (like moving house & continent)!

Our 2nd day in New York, was as fantastic as the first and the weather was gorgeous again. After another relatively late start (thanks to the hotel managers Happy Hour!) we hopped back on the tour bus heading in the direction of Central Park. En route we saw Pier 17 and went under the Brooklyn Bridge, along side Wall Street (which is surprisingly tiny!), 5 Ave, Macy's, and Maddison Sq Garden (probably not in that order!).

For what ever reason, the tour bus we were on was incredibly slow, unlike the one we were on the day before. Whilst the tour bus is a great way to see the city, sat under the Waldorf Hotel flag for 25 mins and crawling along the NY streets stopping for either traffic lights or for passengers to get on or off, becomes a tad tedious after a while! So that, on top of the most irritating tour guide in NY, who kept telling bad jokes and the children off for fidgeting, meant that our patience was wearing thin and we got off the bus fairly quickly, before Leigh 'dropped' the tour guide!!!

We very quickly hailed another cab and were in Central Park a few minutes later! Such an amazing & beautiful space in the middle of New York, and after hot dogs & ice cream, we went into the zoo. We saw all sorts of animals including two Polar Bears; the children's favourite were the Sea Lions which swam around in a massive clear tank. Great viewing whilst eating (more) ice cream! Central Park is as lively as anywhere else in NY; lots of street entertainers, horse & carriage rides, and of course, hot dog stands!

We had a much shorter day in NY as we were catching the plane early evening. So after a day in Central Park we headed back to the hotel. We had one last walk along the Hudson River and the children played in the park before we set off for the airport. We had a good flight back; the children slept for most of it as it was
overnight. It was sunny when we arrived in Heathrow, which was rather welcoming and we then had one more night in a hotel before we finally arrived here at our new house.

Canada has been just the most amazing adventure and looking back, it's hard to imagine now doing the school runs at 37 degrees below freezing! It has been a great couple of years, we've all tried things we wouldn't of had chance to do had we been posted to Tidworth (!); ice hockey, ice skating, skiing, dog sledding, snow shoeing, cross county skiing to name but a few! The children have had the most amazing time, particularly Ben who competently skis black runs with his Dad, and of course, Olivia & Charlie who can now do better 'snow angels' than me!

It's good to be back in Old Blighty though! I don't think a new blog from 'The Tingeys in Bushey Heath' would be quite as interesting, so this is... THE END!

Thank you for reading & following my blog & for all those positive, constructive comments! Kerry x

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New York, New York (part 1!)

We have just had the most awesome day in NYC; after the expanse of the Albertan Prairie, civilisation has really had such an effect on us... there are strangers and cars everywhere!!! (We are far more used to tumble weed than yellow cabs)! And ... after waiting until 10.30am for our kids to get up, we have managed to see most of what this truly amazing city has to offer!

We started off with a Water Taxi around New York harbour, which included the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn Bridge, Pier 17 et al... a really fantastic trip in every sense of the word, made even better by working out how to bypass the crazy queues down at Battery Park. As an added bonus the trip was proceeded by a completely awesome display by a group of 4 street performers on the finer arts of break-dancing and acrobatics...Leigh's one-armed press-ups came in a very distant and sad 2nd place!!

From there we decided to head to the Empire State Building...obviously we had to get a hotdog from a NYC street vendor en route ... and of course Charlie wanted a hotdog without a sausage! Ben fulfilled his aspirations of hailing a New York Cab and we had an amazing taxi ride through NY where along route we saw, amongst many other things; urban basketball courts, cool looking Italian restaurants, Irish bars and many other entertainment centres. Leigh & I would have husselled in on one of the games if we had the time!

The Empire State Building was magnificent, after which we hailed another taxi, even Charlie and Olivia were quite the experts by now, and made our way to Times Square. Again, a completely amazing NY experience and again loads of friendly people (is it just an English voice thing??) and we picked up a tour bus back to the hotel through Greenwich Village, Soho (disappointingly for Leigh not like London!) and Wall Street (surprisingly tiny!).

After short walk down the Hudson River and an obligatory play park later we we back in the Embassy Suites...and joined the rest of the hotel in the Manager's Happy Hour of drinks, nachos and popcorn...huge fun for all the family! More from Central Park tomorrow...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Final Countdown!

As you may have gathered I am winding the blog down now! Whilst the last 4 weeks have been hectic, they have also been rather boring too with only a few exceptions; namely Charlie's 4th birthday and a couple of leaving do's! The rest of the time has been spent packing and organising our trip back to the UK.

Of course, the good old Canadian weather is always a topic of conversation and we have had all four seasons during this last month! Everything from hot sunny days, to thunder, lightning, high winds, hail and of course, snow! At least the village is looking nice and green now - good prep for the UK!

Charlie had a lovely 4th birthday; he had about eight of his friends over from his pre-school, Little Gophers, for a party. The sun shone that day (thank goodness!) and so they were able to play in the garden for most of it! Olivia was very keen to help out and was busy bossing all the little ones around. It was all far too uncool for Ben though who managed to disappear for the duration!

Leigh is in to the last few days of his hand over now and I am packing the last few boxes. The children finish school on Friday, Leigh finishes on Saturday (followed by a 'few' drinks in the mess!) and then we leave the village on Sunday. We are flying up to Calgary, overnighting there and then flying to New York for a couple of days. A great way to finish our North American posting!

Leigh took these photos of the village during a helicopter flight over the Prairie training area; you can get a fair idea of just how remote we are here! I look forward to posting my final blog from New York, New York!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Wow! Another two weeks has just flown by... We only have four weeks left in Canada and at this rate we shall be home before we know it! We've had a fairly quiet couple of weeks with the exception of a long Easter weekend in the Rockies; sadly our last time there.

The weather here recently has been remarkably kind and we've mostly had warm sunny days; much the same as this time last year though at the end of April 08 we had the biggest snow dump we had seen all year so we are not holding our breath just yet that the Canadian winter is finally behind us!

Easter in the Rockies was wonderful. The mountains are still covered in snow and it is always lovely to be there after the plains if the Prairies. Leigh and Ben skied for a couple of days and also met up with Anya (Leigh's sister) who has been out here skiing for 3 months! They had a great day skiing whilst I dropped Olivia & Charlie off at daycare and had myself a Spa day! What a treat! Everyone was happy and we all met up at the end of the day to boast about who had the best day!!! Our hotel was lovely and a hot tub at the end of the day is just such a treat!

So we are back in Ralston now busy finalising our trip home. We have opted to fly home via New York and are spending a couple of nights there before flying on to Heathrow. Seems like a good way to let ourselves down gently about leaving Canada... before we get back on the slow, rainy M25... again!

Leigh's successor and family arrive in Ralston on Tuesday so it will really feel like we are homeward bound. Leigh is back in the UK next weekend to do an early takeover of his new job in London and we have a few parties to attend over the next week or so to say farewell to all here. Speaking of `parties`... Leigh is currently at one as I blog! A `bring your boss to the Sgts Mess`do which started at 4pm (is that like a `show and tell` I wonder!). `I`ll only be a couple of hours` he said..... it`s now 9.30pm! What a surprise!!! Luckily I have known Leigh for 14 years now and know not to expect to see him again tonight!!!... Or possibly even tomorrow!!!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Still Spring!

I can hardly believe it has been almost two weeks since my last blog; time is just flying by and at this rate we will be home before we know it! We have had a fairly eventful fortnight, mainly organising our move back to the UK. Almost all of our belongings have gone - the house is pretty bare and all we have to our names are a suitcase each worth of clothes! I am now beginning to think that I was a bit hasty with the packing now though as I've only got 3 pairs of jeans and a few tops to wear for the next 7 or so weeks! The children have got even less I think! Oh well, at least we will be travelling light!

On a more positive note though almost all of the snow in the village has gone and we have been enjoying some real spring-like days with temperatures a few degrees above freezing. Believe me, when you've had had six months of extreme sub zero temperatures, even zero degrees feels really warm! This is Canada though and I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of the snow yet! To quote Billy Connoly "There is no such thing in Canada as bad weather; only the wrong clothes". How true!

The children are all happy and well. Busy with school and their friends. We are all looking forward to the Easter break and are heading up to the Rockies again for what will be the last time during our stay here.

As ever, the disappearing snow means the onset of the Prairie season and Leigh is already working much longer days in preparation. He only has the first two weeks of the first Med Man exercise to do this year though as his successor arrives later this month to take over.

Due to the lack of photos taken since the last blog I am digging up the archive! The top photo is one taken by Leigh during a helicopter flight over the Prairie (as you can see there is not much around!) and the other is of Leigh in his 'TSV' (2nd in I think) during an exercise last year.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring is in the air!

Another 10 days has just flown by! We are in the midst of organising our move back to the UK - for anyone that doesn't already know, we are London bound at the end of May, which scarily means that our belongings that we want shipped back to the UK are being collected on Monday! On top of that we are busy trying to sort out the new house, schools, flights, hotels, hire car, new car... the list goes on. It feels like we have only just unpacked!

On a more chirpy note, since my last blog we have managed to squeeze in another
lovely long weekend in the Rockies. When we arrived in Canmore last Thursday, the sun was shining and the temperature was well above freezing... a far cry from the lows of -32 that we had in Ralston earlier in the week. So the Rockies felt positively tropical and we all had that lovely 'holiday' feeling. Happy children + warm sunshine + cold beers & a hot tub = bliss!

Leigh & Ben skied again at Sunshine for a day and were doing Black Diamond runs together - impressive stuff! Olivia, Charlie & I pottered around Canmore taking the more life preserving option of walks by the now thawing river which they spent hours throwing stones into (whilst watching out for Grizzly bears!). We all went to Banff again for a day and it felt a little sad knowing we only have one more weekend planned there before we head back to the UK.

There is a big thaw happening here in Ralston at the moment. There is a buzz of spring in the air and we even have a large patch of grass, albeit dead grass, in the garden! Gophers are being spotted everywhere (a sure sign of spring) although I have only seen squashed ones on the Trans Canadian Highway!

So back to reality; we have a weekend of clearing out and packing planned - I'm not sure that the party we are going to tomorrow night (Friday) is going to assist with those plans! Oh well, there is always Sunday I guess!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Mostly skiing

The main event this week has been getting Olivia and Charlie on skis. We went to a place called Hidden Valley in the Cypress hills which is about an hour and half drive from here and is only about 80k from the US border.

The great thing with Ben now is that we can just get him a ski lift pass and he's off for the day; we don't see him again until he's hungry! (It's funny how Ben has gone from a child who ate hardly anything to one who is always planning his next meal!)

Olivia was first up for a skiing lesson and she did really well, dear of her! She got the hang of it pretty quickly and had a fair few goes down the bunny slope. Like her Mamma though, she is just as happy doing Snow Angels at the bottom of the hill!

Next up was Charlie who just couldn't wait to get his skis on and get going! At just 3 years old he did amazingly well and loved every minute. Everytime he got to the bottom of the slope he shuffled himself back over to the hand lift telling the instructor "5 more goes"! There is definately something daredevil about those Tingey boys!

And finally... Ben who I spotted from the comfort of the ski lodge bar....

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Ex Frosty Frolics

I'm back and just about recovered from the annual wives winter exercise; Ex Frosty Frolics! (Phew!) On Friday 40 of us girls were bussed up to Trails End Camp in the Rockies for an action packed weekend of Snow Shoeing, Dog Sledding, Quad Biking and Ice Climbing. What fun! Trails End Camp is the Army Adventurous Training base up in the
Rockies and true to it's title it is rather remote with camp style accommodation, dormitories and bunk beds! Luckily we were able to spread out and each had a lower bunk (I'm sure you can imagine the giggling!).

After arriving on Friday evening & being issued our kit we all went out for a curry in 'near by' Cochran. Despite the distance and the late hour, a curry is always a welcome treat! We were all quite sensible though as our day was starting at 6am the next morning. My groups first activity was Snow Shoeing and I had visions of strapping tennis bats to my feet! Technology has advanced though and we strapped these rather fetching flipper type things to our shoes and went on a 3km stroll
through trees & the open with the mountains for a stunning back-drop. And unlike others in my group (Gill!) I managed to stay upright - it was great fun!

Our next activity was Dog Sledding which is something I have wanted to do since we arrived in Canada - and I wasn't disappointed. Julie & I 'drove' our sled whilst we were pulled along by 8 dogs. Contrary to my belief, it is not a case of sitting in the sled and enjoying the view; you need to be behind the sled helping the dogs pull it along by 'paddling' with your legs. It was such an amazing experience and set in
one of the most stunning places I have ever seen; Spray Lakes. We even passed some people Ice Fishing!

After a busy day of Snow Shoeing & Dog Sledding, we had a 'Granny Bingo' night in the camp. We all got dressed up and had a laugh and as we were all so tired the majority of us were in bed by 11pm! It was good fun though.

Our final day was another 6am start and our first activity was Quad Biking. This wasn't something I had in mind when we arrived in Canada! Again it was great fun. Having never driven a Quad Bike before I was a little on the nervous side, but once we got going it was a real adrenaline rush and there was no stopping me! Such an experience; biking through a snow covered Forest. We were even lucky enough to see a pack of wild horses run past in front of us. Amazing.

Our final activity was Ice Climbing. I have to admit to looking forward to the 1/2 hour hike to get to the climbing area more than the actual climb! It was truly stunning; picture postcard scenery. And as I thought, for me the walk was the best bit about it! A few brave girls from our group got really high up the ice wall; I however, settled for giving it a go and only getting a few feet up. Not my thing; but hey, at least I can say I have done it. Ish!

So a fantastic weekend all in all. A great bunch of girls doing some extraordinary stuff. Truly a weekend to remember. Of course, so I could go off and do this in the first place, Leigh was temporarily promoted to 'Commander-in-Chief Home Command'! I think he coped rather well; when I got home the children were fast asleep, all was tidy and even the packed lunches were ready for the next day. Maybe I should do this more often....

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Snow & Rocky Mountains

We have woken today to another big snow dump and we are expecting another 15cms this afternoon and overnight. Even the children are getting fed up with it now! 'Oh not more snow'! Olivia said this morning!

We had a great time in the Rockies last week. It it such an amazing change of scenery to go from the very plain flat Prairie to the awesome sights as you approach
the Mountains. Very beautiful. We visited Lake Louise again to see the ice sculptures that are there and the children had fun skating on the frozen lake (Leigh & I were too lazy to put our skates on!). It was a lovely day and for once the temperature was only just below freezing so we were able to spend a great couple of hours there.

Leigh & Ben skied at Sunshine for a day and had a great time. Ben came home with excited chatter of Black runs, 'Ollie's', 'Grinding' & attempts at mid-air 360's! Not content with just pointing his ski's downhill - how boring is that? I think Leigh's ears were bleeding by the time they got home!

We had a trip to the swimming pool in Banff; the children spent the whole time going
up and down the water slides whilst Leigh & I watched from the hot tub. Heavenly! We also managed to squeeze in a couple of visits to the Science Museum in Calgary as we stopped there en route to Banff and again on the way home. It's a great way of breaking up the journey.

So after a lovely break we are now back in Ralston. I'm off this weekend on the Wives Winter Exercise; Ex Frosty Frolics! It promises to be good fun and I can look forward to some Dog Sledding, Ice Climbing, Snow Shoeing & a tour in an ATV (All Terrain Vehicle). And a couple of sensible early nights. Obviously!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Hockey & Supper

Yet another quiet, chilly week in Ralston. That feeling of spring in the air which we had last week was swiftly put to an end with the return of temperatures around minus 20! There's not been much new snow though which is a bonus!

Leigh went up to Calgary on Monday evening to watch the Calgary Flames v Montreal Canadiens (ice hockey!) with a couple of guys from work. They had a great evening; beers, hot dogs and live sport, what more could a man ask for on a Monday night! They certainly had a birds eye view of the game! I think it is indicative to the size of Canada that people over here think nothing of making a 5 hour round trip for a night out!

Tuesday evening we had supper over at the Commanders house, well us and about 16 others; they have a very big table! As usual or so it seems, I get to sit next to the visiting Brigadier. But unlike the time before when I asked the Canadian Chief of General Staff if he was in the Army, I managed to work out that this chap was indeed in the Army therefore saving myself from further embarrassment! It did not occur to me however that the other 16 guests were all part of the same Brigade out here visiting and said to about the 6th guy I spoke to who told me he was from Catterick 'Oh really? Did you know the other guy I just spoke to is from Catterick too'... Quite a coincidence wouldn't you say, well I thought so anyway!

So we are just on Half Term out here this coming week (or Reading Week as they call it out here). We are having a quiet weekend before heading up to Banff of Tuesday for 4 days. Maybe a spot of skiing, ice skating, outdoor hot tubbing in sub zero temperatures.... we are all really looking forward to it. So I'll blog from The Rockies next week....