Monday, 14 August 2017

Rolling on the River

Another week of Calgary living and I'm feeling very much at home here.
It's been a busy week - every day's an adventure with JV!

Before I forget, some words to add to the list of words that tickled us: knackered, knickers, smashed it - these are apparently all British bangers! The Canadians also have a beautiful word for corriander: cilantro... news to me!

We've spent a few of our daytimes chilling here in the Calgary condo - the weather's been HOT and so dry, so taking things a littler slower has been the perfect pace of living. We went to another jam night on Wednesday, this time at the old Mikey's, which is a pub with oodles of character and so many stories etched on the walls! You can feel the love for live music in the air, so it felt really exciting to be there and to play. Justine and I played a few songs, including our new-found Kings of Leon cover and we later jammed with some of the boys from Rotary Park - super fun! We ended the night with a comedy game of doubles snooker. My teammate was the highly inebriated Bret, who was passionate about teamwork and was a little put-out by my lack of game-playing tactics I think! When I mentioned I was from Manchester however, he softened and we bonded over some Northern England trivia... but then I potted the 8-ball. Whoops!

On Thursday I discovered even more beauty in the city on a walk along the river. I walked over to Prince's Island Park and took in the gorgeous sunshine and friendly vibes. It's such an active city, with hundreds of workers jogging along the river in their lunch hours and cyclists everywhere at all hours. Pretty inspiring! It feels like everyone really appreciates the beautiful scenery and the pure air here, so spending time outdoors is really valued - I love that! JV and I found a shared love for Ab Fab, so decided to spend the evening watching the film... all of the British humour!

We got even more DOWN with nature on Friday, with a cycle ride to a gorgeous spot beside the river, where we took a swim and had a sunbathe - it was pure bliss! The mountain water is crystal clear and feels so kind on the skin, and after a sweaty, very fast-paced cycle ride (I'm blaming that on Justine's Dutch roots!) a dip in the river was so very welcome. Friday evening was a chance for me to reconnect with another of the musicians I met whilst at the Banff Centre last year: singer/songwriter Nancy Laberge. I played with Nancy and two other wonderful musicians, Mark and Natasha, as an accompanist at their songwriting circle in Gravity Café on Friday night. Another case of not knowing the songs beforehand, so a real test for my ears - scary but satisfying stuff! I really enjoy Nancy's music - she has a cracking sense of humour and a real skill for writing lyrics. I also met lots of Nancy's friends and felt very welcomed - it was a night full of smiles and great music :)

Saturday was just an adventure from start to finish. WOAH. It all began with an early-morning trip to Canadian Tire, which is a huge store selling anything and everything you could ever need, with the best supply of outdoor activities I've ever seen. Justine and I were on the lookout for some inflatable floating devices, as we had our hearts set on spending our Saturday morning floating down the Bow River. After much deliberation, we settled on two single air beds (not necessarily originally designed for the water...) and some chips/crisps for the ride. Before we could change our minds, we were launching our beds onto the water, amoungst the show-offs with rafts and boats and pros with paddles..! We may have encountered many a strange/concerned look from our fellow river users, but it seems that simple methods are often the most effective, because we were soon whizzing past the boats/paddle-brandishing people and were in danger of a speeding ticket! It was so incredibly relaxing to be on the water and to see Calgary from such a different perspective. We cruised on down the river for about two hours, before rolling ashore to catch an Uber back to our car... which dropped us on the wrong side of the river. For a crazy minute, we considered swimming across the strong current to reach our car, but sanity hit and we found a footbridge instead! We were now on a mission to go and play a set at a wedding in a nearby town called Cochrane... without the address of the venue! Uh-oh. To cut a lengthy story very short, we finally found the address about 15 minutes before we had to be playing, but in true rockstar style we pulled up at the beautiful festival-style wedding reception just in time to play our set, before strutting out again to zoom off to our next jam night, back in Calgary! Madness. It was the most beautiful wedding venue I've seen, in the middle of rolling Cochrane hills and so much open space, and such a cool idea to stage it like a music festival.
Anyway, it was then back to the old Mikey's for a quick jam (not even time to sit down to play this time!) and a bite to eat to round off our crazy day.

Sunday consisted of Justine's beautiful Dutch/Canadian pancakes (oh-so good), 1 visit to Church, 2 recordings, 1 kitchen jam, 45 minutes in the gym, 2 sore backs from floating down the Bow River and a chopping board of homemade pizza. Yes, Sunday!

This week, we are planning on recording a CD for Justine's niece called Songs for Jo, which we are recording ourselves in the flat. We have more jam nights coming up and a full-length gig on Friday night back at Gravity Café, so plenty of music to be made and fun to be had!

Pol x

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