Tag: moose jaw

The Best Neighbourhood

I may have said this before: I love Regina, and Cathedral Village is definitely the best bit of it!
I have definitely said this before: It is frigging FREEZING. Eyelash-freezingly, thigh-numbingly, frost-bite-inducingly, Thermos-coffee-mug-thwartingly painfully, dangerously cold!! Sunday had a high -31 celcius.(-24 fahrenheit for American imperialists) and that was without the windchill. With the wind, it was -48, which is -54F. Yep, you guessed it, colder than the surface of Mars. Again.

I am not going to do another post about coldness though, I promise.

My parents came out here for Christmas again, and they now expect a white one – well, they certainly aren’t going to get it at home, are they? We had a lovely holiday, (as always) but it definitely wasn’t long enough. We did have some excursions, including a fantastic trip to Moose Jaw to Temple Gardens Spa, where it’s possible to bathe in hot, natural spring waters, (on the third floor, I might add), but then swim outside and steam in the sudden rush of the minus-ridiculous temperatures of the snowy roof patio. Amazing experience!! Dad’s hair froze, so we spiked it up for him….

Water: 43C Air - 25C
Water: 43C
Air – 25C

We also spent a while SKATING. I LOVE skating!!! Miranda loves it too! I was a bit wobbly at first -I didn’t actually get very good at it last year, but at least i can remain upright and propel myself along. Miri is getting very proficient on her little bobskates. We found there’s a rink at the park on McTavish st in Cathedral so we went there until we were joined by a junior hockey crowd and were humiliatingly overtaken by 6 year olds…. never mind, the Victoria Park rink, ten minutes walk in the other direction, is now open and is relatively hockey-free. Best of all, they hire out skates (for free) and even Mum was (almost) brave enough to have a go!

Not sure if we're holding Miri up or whether she's pulling us along...
Not sure if we’re holding Miri up or whether she’s pulling us along…

The rest of the time, we went for Cold Walks around the neighbourhood, being Beer Elves and making deliveries to Amy, or bringing the Christmas Octonauts magazine to Jeff and Bryony all the way from the UK. Miranda got a SLEIGH from Granny and Grandad for Christmas, which is absolutely brilliant – so much easier than negotiating the pushchair through the snow. Of course, we had to test it, so we bundled her up and went out to admire everyone else’s Christmas lights , most of which were considerably more impressive than our own!

Not our house
Not our house
Madam's carriage
Madam’s carriage








Finally, on our last weekend together, we went to the 13th Ave Records Rendevous at the Artesian. Loads of local bands, several with interchangeable band members, and seemingly trying to play “how many musicians can we fit on stage at once?” It was an excellent night (possibly not as good as the previous year’s – too much of one band, not enough tubas involved?!), and so good to see so much live music all from one small area. There was an after party at the German Club afterwards, which is a long way from Cathedral. The solution? Get the host, a hipster-with-a-megaphone to usher people on to a (free) bus, along with half a brassband and a country singer who stole the aforementioned megaphone, and get the Music Bus all the way across town. Wonderful!!


13th Ave Records operates out of a shop called Buy the Book, two blocks from here. Very sadly, the owner of both, Chris, announced at new year that Buy the Book is closing down soon. Next came the news that my very favourite coffee shop is also closing. What is happening to 13th avenue?? This is Cathedral! If small businesses and community-minded,sightly hippy folk can thrive anywhere, it is HERE. I have a feeling I will be writing more about Cathedral coffee shops soon though, and I refuse to get sad about this. I am staying positive. Cathedral is a beautiful, fantastic neighbourhood and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.



A U-shaped mouth means “HAPPY!” Ü

Miri has learned that a smiley face means Happy and goes round pointing out things that look happy. This is all very cute and endearing until she applies the logic to the flap-lid on street rubbish bins (which are rounded) and sticks her hand in to the rubbish going “happy! happy!” and I feel so heartless pulling her out and telling her not to….

Had a lovely week with Visiting Parents for the most part, it was great to see them and we had lots of adventures! Poor Miri was very ill at the beginning of the week though and she couldn’t really appreciate the presence of Granny and Grandad to begin with. But she soon got better again and was duly spoilt and generally adored. I finally got to explore a bit more of Regina, and as they had a hire-car, we actually managed to get out of Cathedral Village. They did all my food shopping for me so I didn’t have to cart it back in a rucksack on the bus!! And they dropped me at my Steampunk workshop at the library branch in Southlands Mall, (which was brilliant – I made Ridiculous Headgear involving a steel tulip, copper wire, tiny spoons, a small gold frog and the old valve off the espresso machine). Best of all, thanks to Dad I got a new (old) bike sorted, she is bright green and Ashten named her Yoshi (a proper name for something so green, obviously) and they bought Miranda a trailer to go on the back for her birthday, so I can tow her around. It’s wonderful!

Yoshi and Miri’s trailer

We also went out to Moose Jaw to see Mac The Moose properly and take Miri to the Saskatchewan Burrowing Owls Centre which she loved, and we sploshed around in the pool at the Temple Gardens spa. Lovely!! We also investigated Regina Beach as well- beach in this sense referring to Patch Of Sand On Edge Of Huge Lake. A salty beach is around 1500 miles in either direction from here…. a concept I still can’t really get my head around.

The parents loved Regina, especially this neighbourhood. Mum, in her usual overly-ambitious style, decided to buy the property paper and find me loads of houses which, although lovely, are waaaaaaaaaay beyond our mortgaging capabilities at the moment. She is right though, there are a lot of nice houses around here, and your money certainly goes a lot further here than in the UK. A friend back in Darlington commented on one of my photos, saying the street looked “fairytale like” – I assume that is a good thing (though to me, it immediately conjours up images of long haired women locked up in towers or gingerbread houses and precocious brats burning old women in their own ovens – don’t worry, I don’t inflict my interpretation of fairytales on Miri just yet!) – aaaaaanyway. In Cathedral Village at least, there are no semi-detached houses with annoying neighbours you share a wall with, no terraces, no high rise tower blocks, not even many apartments, no scruffy allotments because everyone has a garden, no graffitti, no dog shit on the pavement, no litter, no smashed up bus shelters, no constant background noise of irate dogs/car alarms/police sirens/people arguing and swearing at full volume and certainly no neighbours playing car-alarm-style “music” very loudly whilst sitting on their doorstep swigging lager at 7.30am on wednesday mornings. In short, no chavs.  It is not quite paradise – there are still police sirens, the potholes, like the roads, are gargantuan, far too many people drive humungus 4×4 trucks to go three blocks, there are a worrying number of Healthy People out jogging often in neon shades of lycra, every weekend I am rudely awakened by enthusiastic bell ringing at the Cathedral and someone even drives themselves there every Sunday in a bright yellow hummer – (WHY?! I cannot think of a single reason why you would ever need to go to church in a tank. This is the prairies, not the Gaza strip!) But apart from that, it is certainly an idyllic world away from Darlington!! AND it’s sunny.

All this is reflected in Me subconciously too, it seems. My friends have commented that this blog and my other writing just seems much more animated nowadays. I am feeling Colourful again, I’ve dyed my hair “ultra violet” and bought myself a neon orange “bunnyhug” (er, hoodie) to go with it – very bright in comparison with the clothes that I brought over here with me, 80% of which were black or purple!!  More significantly, I’ve lost over 5kg in weight since I got here without realising, had no permanent headache and no insomnia or anxiety attacks at all since arriving.

All in all, it’s “big U-shaped mouth” time for me!

Me and the Mother being PURPLE.


A few days No Bloggage, sorry dearest reader(s).


It’s been two days and two showers now and I STILL can’t get the stamp from ‘The Exchange’ off my wrist. It took over 24 hours to get the flourescent wristband off. These are the signs of a good night.

This good night was down to New Bestest Buddy and Coffee Geek Tamara of Roca Jacks. She has been introducing me to everyone she meets (and she seems to know EVERYONE in town) as “this is Annabel, she’s from Ingland and she’s got a phd in coffee!” She met me to discuss coffee projects stemming out of her cafe, all of which sounds utterly wonderful and exactly the sort of thing I want to do. She bought me beer and some amazing ginger and lime flavoured ribs, and then took me to the exchange where Austra were playing. Phenomenally good gig, the singer has an amazing voice, and Tamara even got me dancing!!

Unsurprisingly I got back to the hostel late, and then forced myself to get up at some ungodly time in the morning, because I had already booked my ticket to Moose Jaw on the bus. Much as there is ‘only one road in Canada’ there is also Only One Bus to Moose Jaw, and it left at 8am – from the other side of town. So off I toddled feeling like death, but got on the bus, met a chatty bloke called Shane who was braving the bus trip all the way to Calgary (11 hours!) then watched Lots Of Flatness go past for an hour. I saw the giant plastic moose outside the town, and was so shocked when I saw a hill, I had to take a photo of it!!

Moose Jaw is a weird place. I’ll admit, it was quite difficult to kill 6 hours in between The Only Buses there. It is the place of smugglers tunnels and Al Capone and all sorts of fictional tall tales. But nowadays it is sleepy, slightly seedy and has proper, dimly lit, shabby pubs and beer in tankards. Good shopping too – I bought Miri a cuddly moose from a shop exclusively devoted to soft toys, and found places doing gadgets and gothy stuff and FUDGE.No big brand stores either, which can only be a good thing!

I sniffed out two coffee shops there too. One did good coffee and had large squidgy sofas and roasted coffee on the premises, but sadly when I went in it was almost entirely empty. The next did fabulous Saskatooooooon pie (Saskatoon, the town, was named after Saskatoon, the berry, apparently. Saskatoon berries are a lot like loganberries, that kinda thing!), and espresso based coffees out of a bean to cup machine. It also doubles as a funky little boutique selling jewellery and hats and cute little bags and suchlike.They even have live music on there at times.  I really liked the atmosphere there – very fun, relaxed and accepting, like pretty much everywhere I’ve been so far. I sat there for nearly 2 hours writing my Nanowrimo novel (I am still failing miserably though)

Houses in Moose Jaw are considerably cheaper to rent, and to buy than in Regina, so depending on the job situation, it may be worth considering. It’s just under an hour’s drive, which by Canadian standards is practically on your doorstep, though I can’t imagine that commute is too fun when there is loads and loads of snow.

On the topic of the job situation though, I still haven’t heard a squeak out of Ken at Kave Haz, and without wanting to go into too much detail, more information has come to light that makes alarm bells go off in my head. So, I will try once more to get a straight answer, and then give up on the idea entirely. Other opportunities are presenting themselves and this is making me far more excited and helping me stay positive in the light of quite a frightening situation.

Tamara is very keen on learning everything she can about coffee, which is great to hear – I think she can make Roca Jacks really stand out here. She would like to do “coffee education evenings” where I’d use the facilities there to teach barista skills or do cupping sessions or just general coffee chat and stuff. I could make a bit of money from this, it would give me a chance to actually use all the otherwise useless trivia I learnt from the Phd, and in return it would be great publicity for Roca Jacks!! This sounds brilliant!!!

It would only be a part time thing, however, and we couldn’t all survive off just that. However, Tamara’s other wonderfully useful trait is that she used to work in HR and recruitment, and has loads of contacts from her previous job. When  I explained what Carl actually does for a living and showed her his CV, she couldn’t believe he hadn’t found work yet. Apparently there should be loads of jobs for him, and she’s gonna to have a look for us! If Carl got a full time job here then it would mean I can carry on looking after Miri and do coffee stuff on a part time basis. If Carl got a geomatics job, the chances are it’d pay far better than coffee shop stuff anyway.

WEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!1 So lots of opportunities and lovely positive people. I reckon wandering in to Roca Jacks on the off-chance last week was the best thing we could have done! I owe Tamara numerous drinkies now. SO EXCITED!!!!!!