CVAF – Day 2, Poetry Slam

Tonight I went to this:

Poetry Slam at Mercury Cafe

This improved my opinion of the arts festival no end, and also cheered me up after another pretty bad day. It seems you can travel the world and still never escape petty work politics. Gah. Anyway, in desperate need of the company of people in possession of some social skills, we headed out to this poetry slam, which was in much the same vein as the Babel Open Mic Nights in Darlington. Basically, turn up, have a beer, write something very quickly under pressure, read it out in public. Potentially win more beer or social affirmation. How could I resist??

This was my poem, scribbled in precisely four minutes, after a pint of Grasshopper lager, whilst simultaneously trying to stop Miri drinking ketchup out the bottle/ pouring salt on the table/ pulling her own jeans off in public / face-painting with gravy-laden poutine / spilling my Death Mints everywhere. We had to use the theme of “rain or shine” and incorporate a phrase from a random page of a book left on our table. My phrase from page 87 was “where did you learn his language?”

“So, it’s pretty wet oot there, eh?

Says Friendly Guy as I made his latte.

I agree, having just got drenched.

He continues to moan about the rain,

His thirst for conversation not yet quenched

Then he asks, “where’s that accent from?”

Jolly old England. “you been here long?”

Six weeks. Not long enough to complain!

“Check you oot, chatting with the locals,” says my friend

Where did you learn his language?

Well, talking about the weather is a global trend…

I actually did pretty well, considering how bad that is in hindsight. The top three places were awarded to Serious Poets who obviously spent a bit more time on it with fewer distractions – and they really were very good indeed. I do think I got points for a.) my accent, b.) bringing cute Miranda onto stage with me, and c.) wearing my “I’m not on Facebook” t-shirt rather than the poem, but hey, never mind. At Babel i got points for writing whilst tipsy, wearing a corset and riding a tricycle to the event. Even if I can’t rhyme well, at least I can be Interesting!!

Tomorrow night is a tough call between story telling or a bit of theatre called “Rubiks Cube.” Hmm.

Cathedral Village Arts Festival, Day 1

Victoria Day

First rule of blogging – never type whilst cross.

I am in a better humour than I was earlier, having had my mood improved by chatting to my dearest insomniac cousin online, and also by a large glass of wine. But nevertheless, today was all round PANTS if you ask me. I’m sorry to report that the Cathedral Village Arts Festival wasn’t so much rubbish, as actually non-existent!! Well, this afternoon at least. Tomorrow may prove more entertaining.

I have a whole list of things that went wrong today – namely me not realising that a.) it is Victoria Day and b.) that Victoria Day is actually a national holiday. No one warned me of this until Friday evening, when Arun – also an immigrant  here, I should add – announced it just as I was about to leave work. We had a discussion on why the English don’t bother with Dead Old Lady Holiday: which particular dead monarch would you pick? we would end up with A LOT of holidays if it we were to commemorate every dead member of the royal family.  But anyway, I did not realise at all that Victoria Day meant people don’t go to work. I had my shift posted for today already, and didn’t even realise I’d been scheduled to work on a national holiday. Normally I wouldn’t mind – it’s not like I have other plans at the moment :-s However, Miranda’s daycare doesn’t operate on national holidays. Luckily, I had the sense of paranoia sufficient to ring Carolina to check before traipsing over to her house with a half-alseep Miri. No daycare today. Doh. So Miri had to spend the day cleaning the cafe with me. This is a lot of work in normal circumstances and involves bleach and swearing and plenty of dishwasher-saunas. Doing all that whilst trying to stop Miri jumping off chairs or invading Mike’s kitchen or painting the tables with yoghurt or dropping marker pens in the detergent bottle, was nigh on impossible. I ended up very tired, cross and smelly, and Miri was bored stupid, poor baby!

We tried to phone Daddy earlier than usual, but on today of all days, my microphone – or possibly Carl’s speakers decided not to work, so he couldn’t hear us. I got so frustrated I gave up in disgust. Poor Warly 😦

So, to try and cheer ourselves up, I tried to take Miri to what remained of the day’s events at the Arts Festival

All Afternoon [it said]: Food sales, The Living Statue & Living Pictures, Participation Stations: Games, DIY Face Paint, Balloon Twist, Hula Hoops.

Great! I thought, Miri will love that! Could i find anything??? Could i hell! We must have walked round in circles for about eight blocks, never found anything like that, not even any sign of stalls that had already closed for the day, absolutely nothing!! I walked all the way down to the river without seeing another person, let alone a festival crowd, and was going to give up and take Miranda to the swings instead, when I realised she’d fallen asleep in the pushchair anyway!

gah. all in all, an incredibly frustrating day.

Scones

Today I had to explain what a scone was, and what constitutes a cream tea. This was to a chef as well!!! Cream tea, strawberries, cucumber sandwiches and Wimbledom are meaningless here it seems!! I was never really a tennis fan, and certainly never ate cucumber sandwiches for it, but these traditions have to be acknowledged at least! This is how I used to serve them last year at Doctor Coffee’s Cafe:

And this is Miri and I making some for the 13th Ave staff tomorrow as a demo.

Ok, so we also made a mess.
The squished one in the middle is Miri’s effort.

It takes moments like these to make me really remember I am in Foreign Parts. Prince Charles and Camilla are visiting Regina for the Jubilee, apparently, and I hope they are sufficiently aghast that such traditions have not  reached this far across the commonwealth!!

In all seriousness though, it is sometimes easy to forget that I’ve travelled halfway round the world. My job is not that different, I am still coffee-obsessing and cleaning toilets(!), still baking Ugly things, still swearing at PhD revisions, and still going to rum-fuelled parties and talking bollocks all night… I have more or less got used to the accent here too now and have caught myself referring to my “apartment” not “my flat” or to “the mailman” not “the postie”. But then, for all my newfound familiarity, some things still knock me sideways with their strangeness. Like lack of scones. And less daft things: I took Miranda for an early evening walk at the Wascana park on Sunday. Over here, it was Mother’s Day then, so technically I got two this year since I think I nagged Carl into getting me something for Mothering Sunday back in March in the UK! Anyway, Miri soon fell asleep in the pushchair (I REFUSE to call it a stroller. I rarely ‘stroll’ with it. Neither do I perambulate with a pram. I do, however, push a chair along.) When she was asleep and virtually invisible in the chair from behind me, these blokes came past, saw the pushchair and shouted “Happy Mother’s Day” at me! Very sweet. But that would NEVER happen back in Darlington!! The chance of any bloke remembering Mother’s day, let alone genuinely sending greetings to a complete stranger would be unheard of!

It is also Hot, in May. Today it was STONKINGLY hot, in fact. At the moment, it is 10.35pm and I am sitting outside on the steps up to my flat with the laptop, touch typing because I can’t see the keyboard, wearing unattractive shorts and an old t-shirt. It is a gorgeous evening, but so warm I almost feel like I am back in Nicaragua!(Except there are fewer Giant Flying Bugs, and the beer is about seven times more expensive!!!). No horrid orange glow of light pollution, no wail of police sirens or drunken chavs shouting incoherantly, yet I am still obviously in a city. It being quiet, and above all, being this warm at night is something I am never going to get used to, and I love that.  I would love to retain this “holiday” feeling for as long as possible!

The patio at night, from my front window

I think I put too much baking soda in the scones though.

Cathedral Village

Most of these pictures are on my Google+ page but if you’re not a Goobie, here are some pretty pics of my new neighbourhood….

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Social Engagement

I have been here a month today!!
I don’t know what is more weird, that we left Darlington a month ago, or that it has only been a month….

I feel like I am settling in. I met a friendly bloke today – or at least, Miranda met his daughter, so we had to chat while they dug holes in the sandpit. He (Jeff) was originally from Brisbane, but spent a long time in south west London, and has now been in Regina nine years. When I said I’d only been here a month, he said “God, you’re SO NEW!!” I liked that!

I am meeting a great many more ex-pats that I expected though. Saskatchewan is definitely not as remote as the stereotype dictates and Regina really is boom-town at the moment. I met a woman in the cafe originally from Surrey but now working in the school down the road; another from Bournemouth now working in the baby shop here, a bloke from Nottingham, the pest-control guy from Manchester, and another customer whose husband is from Redcar – I kid ye not!!! This morning I went to the first outdoor Farmer’s Market of the year (it hides indoors over the winter and I never noticed it). I bought some Proper Meat there for dinner tomorrow to make up for the vegetarianism at work, and the bloke on the stall turned out to be from Cumbria, complete with a flat cap!

As for Canadians though, I am meeting plenty, but I feel like I don’t get much of a chance to get to know them! Customers in the coffee house are fleeting as ever and known only by their drinks. There are the usual suspects: Dry-Capp woman, Steam-Cream Girl, Muffin-man, the Burrito Boys, and the woman who phones in her order and who I epically misheard on the phone the first time she rang, and shall now and forever be known as Miss Beaver. It is not the sort of place where I can use the name “Mrs Soya Milk” though (sorry Vicky!!!) because it doesn’t really narrow it down!!

The other staff are all a lot of fun and it would be great to go out with them and chat outside of a work environment because work is tiring and we all get grouchy ythere at some point. However, they are all younger than me, and only one has a kid, and even though I know they do go out together occasionally after work, I cannot join them for as long as I am on my own with Miri. Basically I am destined to have no social life here until Carl comes out here to babysit!!

That said, I am trying my hardest to Go Exploring and Socialising whenever I can. They are starting to recognise me in the pub now – if only because Miranda has made herself rather infamous there by painting her face with guacamole, dropping a pint glass and pulling her brick wagon around the place. I’ve also been down to the coffee house when I am not working to meet people on the other side of the bar! (sad I know, but also lazy since some visits have been prompted by my lack of incentive to cook my own dinner!). Today we went to “Tea Party with Tickle” at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. Tickle is a metre-high very cute baby triceretops that kids can ride on, and she moves her head about and makes cute baby dinosaur noises. It was a fundraising do to help re-house a real dinosaur skeleton called Scotty. Miranda hated Tickle, but enjoyed everything else so it was good! We also went to Free Comic Day in the comic store, picked up some stuff and resisted the urge to buy cuddly Cthulus. Last week we went to the Zombie Awareness night, which was brilliant, tomorrow we’re off to a “vintage letter writing” group at the library and there is a Steampunk Art workshop coming up too. I do love that there are all these sort of very Annabelish events happening around here – and it does give me reasons to get out and about.

Just wandering around Regina still makes me very happy though. It’s pretty even when it is not sunny, I feel safe here, and like I can be myself much more easily.  It is a very Canadian custom to be seen walking around town with a keep-cup – as in, your own reusuable coffee cup with a lid so you don’t have to waste the cardboard ones all the time. I applaud the idea, but despite my colossal coffee-drinking habits, I’ve never really needed to walk round with my coffee. I just drink it before I go out! But anyway, in an attempt to blend in, I bought this.

Cos I do.