Friday, 31 December 2010

Qualified by 2011

On the bus this morning that sun was rising over the rockies, making for a picturesque view for the duration of my journey to Nakiska for the last day of my course.
It was a mild -29 with wild chill in the morning, but by the afternoon it had warmed up to a pleasant - 7.
The course went very well and I had a great time skiing with the other guys taking part who were a really cool group. I am now a Certified Level 1 Ski Instructor and look forward to getting up to Norquay, into an Orange Jacket and on with teaching people to ski. Finally I'm ready to do what I came here for, and just in time for 2011.

Speaking of which, our plan is to ring in the new year at a house party round the corner which should be good.

On the subject of resolutions, I think my first will naturally be to not get any more stupid injuries that hold me back from what I want and ought to be doing. That's all I've got for now but maybe I'll come with something more profound at a later date.

Happy New Year to you all, I hope 2011 brings surprises, challenges and treats in abundance, and look forward to seeing everyone upon my return at the end of May.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Boxing Day

Yesterday was, naturally, Christmas, and I had an awesome day. I got up in the morning to skype my family back home which was really nice, I opened my presents while on webcam with them and had a long talk which was the ideal start to Christmas day. 
I then went skiing for most of the day while Dave and Owen cooked up an excellent Christmas dinner for nine of us and we had a brilliant evening playing games and chowing down on all the tasty food. 

Today I went up to Norquay on the 8.25 bus and after going out with the other instructors for the morning session I spent the day teaching (slightly illegitimately). I was supposed to be shadowing Jack, one of the other instructors on "Discovery", which is what they call it when people are absolute beginners. The group had 7 people in it and although 5 of them picked things up pretty quickly two of them struggled, so I spent the day with those two and by the end of the lesson they'd made it onto the magic carpet. So Jack very kindly spoke to Kathryn, the assistant director of the ski school, and they agreed me to pay a full day at instructor's wages. 
So, I got a good day's teaching experience in, which was really good with my course only two days away now! 

I think I'll spend the day tomorrow going over the e-prep that I got sent by the ski school at Nakiska to get ready for that. I'm feeling pretty confident after today's success, plus Gord said to me something like, "I've seen your skiing and I'm sure you won't have any problem with it" which was reassuring. 

The new ski gear I got for Christmas, socks and thermals, are also proving to be really good so many thanks again to my lovely family who sent them out, as well as all the other goodies I got. 

So, all in all a good couple of days, roll on level 1. 

Thursday, 23 December 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I've had another great day on Norquay today, even if I did have to get up at 6.30 a.m to catch the staff bus. It was worth it though, as I went out with Gord and the other instructor's for a session first thing, and got to get an idea of how things go in the mornings and throughout the day up there.

It was a beautiful day and a balmy - 5 on the mountain which made for ideal conditions. I also went tubing (sliding down the hill in a rubber ring) with Mr. Matt Berry which was pretty good fun.

After coming down the mountain I went to the post office to find that the Christmas package from my family had arrived, so I'm feeling all the more excited for Christmas now there's a sizable stack of presents under our tree for me to open on the big day.
Yes, they're all for me, because my family is the best. 

I think I'll have a day off skiing tomorrow to rest my ankle a bit, but I'll definitely go for a Christmas day ski before our house get together, which should be a real treat, considering the size of the turkey Noel and Nancy brought round.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

I thought I forgot something.

I forgot to put these pictures up from my day at Norquay today. The views up there were pretty spectacular.

I stopped in to see Mark when I went up his lift. . .
Mark and I were getting pretty excited when we saw the construction of the snow park going on up there:
And finally here's a little picture of me on a lift.

Skid again today.

I went back up to Norquay today and did some more skiing. My ankle definitely felt better than it had on Saturday, and I hit some black runs today (which in Canada is like a moderate to difficult red in Europe) and it didn't complain too much, so I think that's a sure sign that it's on the mend.

I saw Gord when I was up there and he said I should take the staff bus up tomorrow morning to go for a session with him and some of the others so I can start getting prepped for my course. Speaking of which, when they sent me the confirmation of my reservation they also sent me some reading material and a little worksheet to get on with so that'll keep me occupied tomorrow or Friday or something.

Having gotten up at 9.00 this morning and after getting up tomorrow at about 6.00 I should be getting into a more normal sleeping pattern, rather than getting up at about 12.00 in the afternoon and going to bed really late.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Not so much ski in ski out.

I had planned to go skiing today but after going out last night I ended up sleeping in and missed the 10.25 bus, which is the last one.
This brings me on to something I prefer about skiing in Europe, which the fact that a lot of places there are ski in ski out, or at least in walking distance from the lifts. This means that, even if you sleep in, you can easily just ski for an afternoon, whereas here you're restricted to the bus timetable, or hitchhiking.

Tomorrow I believe a trip to Calgary is planned with Steve and Owen, who have a car. We'll go to the mall and I think go to see Tron, so should be a good and, importantly, different day.

After the inter-house Ice Hockey Dave and I thought it would be cool to do inter-house basketball too; you can rent the basketball court at the gym for free if you're a member (we think), so that could be fun, and Nancy seemed to like the idea.

Nancy also said she's going to go ahead and book me onto the level 1 course in Nakiska, starting from the 28th, so I'm going to have to buy my pass for the 4 days, but there's a chance I may be able to get that back on insurance as it's a result of my injury, but I'll have to look through my policy.

For now, that's all, folks.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

The big match.

This evening, Noel and Nancy had organised for us all to go ice skating and play some ice hockey, so trooper that I am, and envigorated by my success skiing today, I strapped on my brace and got right down to it!

Needless to say, we brave soldiers of The Annex were winners of the knock out tournament, with two resounding wins, 4 - 0 Vs. Cougar / The Nest and 3 - 2 against Cedar. Admittedly, the main reason we won was the unrivalled skill of Mr. Will "wags" Wagstaffe, who played Ice Hockey for Plymouth University during his time there. However, I like to think of him as Marlon Brando in The Godfather: clearly the best individual, but with a strong supporting cast.

Some highlight for me:
In the first game I hung back a little, not wanting to get involved in the melees around the puck, but I made some (obviously invaluable) interceptions while chanting DE-FENCE! DE-FENCE!
In the second game I was much more involved and was pleased with a couple of moments of puck control on the left wing. At one point, one of their players broke through and pushed the puck in front of himself to shoot, but I heroically dived across the ice to knock the puck away from him with my stick. However, my favourite moment was when I received the puck on the left, evaded one of their attackers, brought it forward and took it past a defender to be clear on goal. I pushed the puck to my right and in front, raised my stick and brought it down with tremendous power . . . which was wasted, as I swung to the right of the puck, missing it completely, and the momentum from the swing carried me away from it, and the moment was gone. Next time. Next time.

I had a lot of fun, as did everyone, and Noel and Nancy had also laid on some Baileys-hot chocolate for us all to enjoy by the fire that Noel fuelled generously.

So many thanks to Nancy and Noel for organising the evening, and bloody good show to everyone who picked up a stick and got involved. Cracking.


Today I went skiing!

I went up to Norquay to test out my ankle, and saw Mark on the bus up there so I skiid with him for a couple of hours or so.
I stuck to the greens and blues but we still got to ski quite a lot of different runs across the mountain, and it was great to finally get out there and ski.
My ankle seemed pretty much up to it, it was a little painful sometimes when turning right so that I was up on the inside edge of my left ski, and I couldn't do any really sharp turns or fast stops, but basically my ankle is shaping nicely.
So, I should be ready in plenty of time to start the level 1 instructor's course over at Nakiska on the 28th of this month, which would mean I could hopefully start teaching on Norquay in January!

It finally looks as though I'm going to be over the injury soon.

That being said, while I'm sticking to the easy runs, I thought I might take the opportunity to learn to snowboard, especially seeing as I get free rentals from Norquay as staff. That way, I won't get bored on the greens and blues at Norquay, and will be ambidextrous on the snow.

Tonight Noel and Nancy, our GYC sponsors, have organised for us all to go up to the ice rink at one of the big hotels and have a hockey match and do some tabogganing, so that should be cool.

I thought I'd treat you all to some haiku.

My ankle's injured.
My impatience is mounting.
My swimming improves.

Here in Canada
Snow falls most on the mountains.
I watch it rising.

Py takes so long it doesn't
Fit into one line.

Therapy is slow
But with patience brings rewards,
Like the falling snow.

I hope you enjoyed them.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

We have now decorated our appartment, complete with Christmas tree:
 with presents under it:
though they're not real presents, and stocking above the fireplace:

 I think Dave and I did a pretty good job!

Went for a swim today and Mark and Alex happened to be up there too so we all played some poolsket ball . . .that's basketball in the pool, which was good fun.
I also swam 40 lengths, which I also did yesterday. I've been feeling some definite improvement in my ankle . . . I think, so hopefull on track for skiing by christmas!

Up, up and away!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Yay for insurance.

My insurance claim has come through and Dad's been able to pay the cheque into my bank account, so that's all turned out jolly nicely. Hurray for insurance!

I swam a mile again today, which again I'm pretty pleased with. I can say with some confidence now that my ankle is getting better, so hopefully the estimate of being able to ski by Christmas should hold out, fingers crossed.

Nothing much else to report just now, my life pretty much consists of swimming and physiotherapy at the moment.


Monday, 6 December 2010


Went for a swim today, I swam a mile which I'm pretty pleased with. I dunno if I'll do that much every day but I definitely think the swimming is helping my ankle along. To be fair I took I wasn't exactly swimming particularly fast and took my time over. Still, a mile is a mile . . . right?

I think tomorrow I'm going to get a Canadian phone, finally. I'd been putting it off until I started work but it's getting frustrating now so I'm just going to bite the bullet and do it.

Dave, Alex, Steve and I went for a burger tonight at Eddie Burger, which was pretty good. It was the first burger I'd had since I got here, which seems like an awfully long time to go out here without having a burger. Now all is right in the world.

The claw . . .

Sunday, 5 December 2010

That's one good cup of tea.

Well this is third day that I've been doing physio on my ankle, it's difficult to say whether there's been much improvement so far but I think it's getting better. I'm going to get a month's membership at the gym and go swimming up there a few times a week as they said that would help things along.

Miguel has now moved out and our new flatmate Dave has moved in. He's from Switzerland, though he went to university at St Andrews in Scotland. It's not quite the same without Miguel around but Dave seems like a nice guy and I'm sure he'll settle in just fine.

I finally got round to buying some Tea, so I'm feeling pretty British right now, sipping on a cuppa.

There's a snake in my boot.

Thursday, 2 December 2010


Today I went to physio, which was pretty good. I got an exercise program which I'm supposed to do three times a day, and every three days I'm supposed to knead and prod my ankle where the scar tissue is and then ice it.
They also told me to ditch the crutches so now I am officially walking!
She said it wasn't gonna get better for 6 weeks, which I assume includes the 2 weeks it's been already, so my date for recovery is the 23rd of December.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Google autocomplete me fails of the evening:

The format shall be:

Who de
Who dey panties

Why d
Why did I get married too
Why does my mom turn me on

Why Can't I hold all these limes.
Why are these strawberries doing on my nipples I need them for fruit salad
Why is there a dead Pakistani on my couch.

Why can't
Why I can't I hold all these limes - listed 3 times.

Well done Canadian internet. Please leave your own in the comments section.

Someone's poisoned the waterhole!

Something to report.

Hello Chaps,
Sorry I haven't been on for a while, there hasn't really been much going on. I've basically been sitting around with my foot up watching movie after movie, plus over the weekend I was ill with the flu and so was even less active.

Today I went to the Norquay orientation day. The first half was a general one about Banff with a few different people doing a speech. It was ok, interesting in parts but ultimately boring when dragged out over a 4 hour period. The first part set the tone, where my boss's boss at Norquay distributed Employee Handbooks which he then proceeded to read out to us, which was handy, because I'd been struck temporarily illiterate. I did learn something valuable, which is that a large proportion of said handbook could be reduced to, "Don't be a dick."

The second part of the day, which was the ski school orientation, was much better, I guess mostly because it all applied directly to me so I was more invested. We also did a little ice breaker, introductions thing which are always entertaining . . .

In other news, my ankle is feeling much better, I would say I can 90% walk on it now, so I'm feeling pretty good about my rate of recovery, and I think I'll give physio a call tomorrow to make an appointment.

To infinity, and beyond!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Some good news.

My ankle is feeling better, the pain isn't very bad and the swelling is going down, and the bruising has gone a not very nice yellow colour, which is a good sign, my esteemed Uncle Rob informs me. 

I spoke to Gord, my boss, and he said there should be no problem for me to get on a course later on. He said that Norquay do one every month, as do Sunshine and Lake Louise, so between them there's almost one starting every week, so basically I will be able to work and instruct, so that's good news.

He said not to rush back in to things, because he did that before and it meant that things just got worse. If I went back before my ankle's strong enough I think it would pretty much guarantee that I did it again, so I'll just have to wait it out. 

As far as doing something else goes, he said that he thinks pretty much all the jobs on the mountain are filled at the moment, but that he'd speak to a couple of his colleagues up there to see if they have anything available. He also said they always need people around Christmas, so I may well be able to get something, we'll just have to see.

He also said that all the physios in town are really good, so that's reassuring.

Good news overall, just got to get better now.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Disaster Strikes

On Thursday night while crossing the street in town I fell on the ice and hurt my foot. The middle of the roads are always the worst, with the cars compacting the snow into really slippery ice.
It was cold out so I was walking a little fast and as I crossed the street I slipped and fell. On Friday Aven took me to the hospital and an x-ray revealed that I tore the anterior-key ligament (I think it was) in my left ankle.
This means my foot looks like this:
They gave me a Gel brace to wear if ever I had to get around:
This has two bits that go in the freezer so when I put it on it keeps my ankle chilled. I've also got crutches so I'm able to keep pretty mobile but I'm not gonna lie, it pretty much sucks.

The doctor said that it could be as long as 6 weeks before my ankle is fully healed, but I may be able to ski within 3. I'm going to speak to Gord (my boss at the Norquay ski school) on Monday to see what he says about me starting later or something, so far all he's said is not to worry about skiing and to just get better. Nancy's kindly said she'd also see if there was some other job I might be able to do for the time being to keep me occupied and, more importantly, paid.

Today was Norquay opened, so it could have been my first day's skiing, but instead I'm on the sofa with my foot up tackling insurance claim forms. Oh joy.

Getting around on crutches is not as easy as one might think, it's pretty tough on your shoulders and my right leg, the one I can stand on, begins to ache after a while.
Another big risk is having one really muscular, toned bum cheek and one flabby weak one, so I'll have to think up some exercises to avoid lop-sided hotness . . . just kidding. Seriously though, it is especially frustrating because I felt that I was building up a really good level of fitness at boxing and now that will be pretty much totally undone.

Let's just hope I can make a speedy recovery. The doctor gave me the address for a physiotherapist and which he said would speed my recovery (I guess it ought to seeing as that's the point of physiotherapy) so once the worst of the pain is over I'll head down there and see what it's like in terms of cost.

For now, plenty of film and tv watching, plus I brought A Tale of Two Cities by Dickens, and there are a couple of other books here left by previous occupants, so hopefully I'll be able to keep myself occupied.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Another boxing session.

Another pretty intense workout at boxing tonight. In addition to all the other stuff we normally we also did this thing where, in pairs, you throw a ball to each other, for the first 2 minute interval using only your jabbing hand and for the second only your cross hand. Doesn't sound that bad? The ball weighed 12 kilograms, so it was pretty tough.

It's definitely clear that my cardiovascular fitness is much better than my muscular endurance, and I felt the strain in my arms far more than in my ability to keep going, which I'm pleased to say I was always able to do. Apparently Tuesday is their "tough class" so I'm glad that I still felt good and the end and not defeated.

In the sparring my first two fights were with two of the women there, which was a little weird, especially having come from a club where that meant I would be defending only. My third fight, however, was with a chap called Jon-Jon, clearly quite experience and, although he was a little older and not so quick, he definitely landed a couple of punches. I was kept on my toes which is always good, and I was happy with my footwork in places, sidestepping round his guard to land a couple of cross-punches.

Also, I've gotten better at skipping.

A quiet night tonight, but tomorrow we'll probably head out to the open mic in town again so that should be cool.

Monday, 15 November 2010


It snowed tonight while I was out round at Thom's house, so after getting back I took a couple of quick pictures to capture it before it gets driven over in the morning:

Yay, snow! 

Snowfall expected.

We've heard there's a snowstorm expected tonight which should bring 10 to 15 centimeters of snow. Exciting stuff, especially since I should be getting my ski pass tomorrow!

Last night Miguel managed to keep his lobster hands until 12, and then for another hour which earned him a drink from me, so that was pretty funny.
Going out in Canada, though, seems to be like going out in England about 2 years ago, as I discovered when in a club full of people going "we . are . your friends. You'll . never be alone again." and "put your hands up for Detroit", which was a little bit what going out was like in first year of uni. Some things do make it only hear a little bit after they come in England, as I regretfully found out when the DJ mixed in, "PaPa Americano" and I nearly just left straight away. I thought I'd lived through that little number quite enough after hearing it every second while at work at Christ's. Matt, Martin, I thought maybe I'd have gotten away from it by putting an ocean in between, but its followed me across the Atlantic to ruin clubs out here as well . . .

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Miguel loses a bet.

A few of us went and played pool today at a place where it's free during the day, and during on game Miguel and I made a little wager. I won the game, and so now Miguel's fingers have been bound on each hand, and he has to stay like that until midnight tonight:
Let's see if he manages it.

Miguel Wins the bet.

Aven displayed very little in endurance or staying power and undid her hand-binding before the evening was over, and so Miguel won the bet. I was very disappointed in her for this. Ah well, to the victor the spoils.

This morning, thanks to us getting a T.V. upgrade, I've been watching Football (English football, mind) on Setanta sports, which has been nice. I must say Chelsea had an embarrassing game against Sunderland, and Everton were pretty upsetting against Arsenal. The Mersey-side boys are going to have to pull themselves together to avoid dropping into the relegation zone, I think.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Signs of snow to come?

With clouds gathering round the mountain tops and the river beginning to freeze, it looks as though we might finally be in for some snow. Norquay mountain opened today, having had a little snowfall and with all the snowmaking that's been going on, but, in the absence of any buses running, I couldn't be bothered to hike up, plus I haven't got my lift pass yet, should be getting that on Monday.

In other news, I've set up a little bet between Aven and Miguel. I've bound the fingers on one of their hands, and the first one to take it off loses and the other person gets $5:

Boxing Session # 2

I went to the boxing club again last night where I got a really good work out. The session followed the same structure as the previous one: circuits; sparring; shadow boxing (with weights or resistance ropes); 300s; plank. it was pretty intense but again there was a good bunch of guys there and the instructor is good at keeping everyone motivated and by the end adrenaline was running high and I felt really good.

When we did plank, for the side plank I did what Alex Campbell calls "Shaolin-monk style" for the first 15 seconds, where instead of balancing on the side of your foot with your legs together, you bend one leg and place your foot flat on the floor and hold your other leg up in the air behind it. It's pretty tough and I couldn't keep it up for 30 seconds but I was pleased to do it for half the time after the main body of the class.

We also did some stretching at the very end which was really good, because not only did it provide some cool-down time but it also meant my calves weren't completely seized up today like after the last time.

Things I need to work on in the sparring is keeping mobile, using my long reach to keep opponents at distance. The coach gave me some good positive feedback as well as some things to think about doing better, which was really cool. I can really see what Mr. Oli Moran enjoys about boxing, and at the moment I'm thinking about sticking with the boxing rather than the kyokushin, as I enjoyed the class a lot more.

As far as costs go, I can pay $12 a session (which is a lot, really) or $65 for a month, which isn't so bad, if I keep training at least once and preferably twice a week. I'll have to see how it goes once I start work and have less time.

Also I need to get better at skipping.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Open Mic in town.

Last night, after watching the first episode of "The Walking Dead" (which was awesome) Natasha (someone else from GYC) Shane, Miguel and I went out to an open mic' night at a bar in town. We had a really good time and although I didn't get up to play anything myself, I did get on the drums to back up a couple of the other people there which was really cool. Unfortunately no one took a camera down so there are no pictures, but it was a good night.

Today is Alex's birthday, but because he has work tomorrow we're gonna wait till tomorrow night to celebrate.

I also heard from Nancy saying that we can go to Norquay on Monday and I can get my ski pass upgraded to a "big 3" pass, so it'll work on Sunshine and Lake Louise. All we need now is for it to snow so that I'll be able to make use of it and all the gear I've bought.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Still no snow.

As you can see, it's still pretty sunny here, although there is intermittent cloud cover, it shows no sign of snowing any time particularly soon. Sunshine is supposed to be opening on the 11th of this month (Thursday), but as suggested by the lack of snow this may not happen. They've been up there making loads of snow but I guess we'll just have to see if they can open on time. I think Norquay should be able to open on time for the date they set, which was (I believe) the 28th of November. Fingers crossed there'll be enough snow (manufactured or otherwise) to get some skiing done by the end of the week!

In other news, I didn't make it up to Sulfur Mountain today because Alex said he wants to go as well so I figured I'd wait for the weekend when he's free. I'll be missing boxing tonight to go out for steak (yum) with GYC.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Today I shaved and bought a ski helmet. Here is evidence of those two things:

The helmet is pretty standard, hard on the outside, padded on the inside, chin strip round the bottom, ticks all the helmet boxes. Just as I'm typing this, a little snow is beginning to fall outside, which is pretty exciting because it seemed like it was going to be ages before we got any. Hopefully its a sign of more to come.

Tomorrow night it's $8 steak night at a place in town and GYC have booked a table for like, 30 people so that should be pretty cool.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A nice view.

This a picture I took up at the Hot Springs the other day, it looks out over the valley Banff is in to the Rockies in the background. I thought it was quite nice with the framing trees, I meant to put it on here the first time round but forgot.


Pretty quiet couple of days out here. I bought some ski poles, having realised I completely forgot to get them when I bought my skis. I decided it wasn't worth busting out loads of money for them so I just got some for $50, they're pretty much just ski poles so I won't put any pictures up. They're silver and black, you can use your imagination.

I think I'm gonna have to think of something to do or I'm going to get bored of watching this T.V. show "Weeds". It has the person who plays Amy Gardner in The West Wing and she's pretty good but overall I wouldn't say it's a brilliant show. It fills up the time though and the others in the chalet all love it so I tend to end up seeing a lot.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Banff Hot Springs and Skis

Alex and I went up to the Banff Hot Springs today and it was pretty cool. It was a little bit too like a swimming pool when I was expecting to be a little more au naturel, but it was still really nice being outside in a hot pool when it's cold outside. Also, Alex took his camera which works underwater so we got some really cool pictures 

and videos, Alex made a compilation of 3 little videos of me. 

Also, I picked up my skis all set up from the shop: 

We're all going out to Melissa's tonight where a whole bunch of GYC people are going so that should be cool. Out. 

One for the martial arts types Part Deux

Last night I went to my second class at the Kyokushin Dojo in town, which, in the absence of the normal instructor, was this time taken by the boxing instructor, who uses the same hall. There were a lot of the same people and a couple of faces I didn't recognise, but again it was a great bunch of people with a good attitude and they were good to train with.

It was an intense cardiovascular work out, with some boxing exercises worked in. The instructor (who's name I forget) gave us a brief introduction to the stance and four basic puches - jab, cross, hook and upper-cut (which I shall henceforth refer to as a shuryuken - booya).

We started with 40 minutes of circuit training, with four bases: running up and down stairs, taking them 2 at a time up and 1 at a time down on a staircase with 20 steps; skipping; shadow boxing in the mirror, practicing staying on your toes, bobbing and weaving in between punches; and working on hanging punch bags. For the first 20 minutes I rotated between stairs and skipping, 2 minutes sets of each, the only break between which was for 30 seconds after the skipping. We also did either 20 press ups or 20 squats between each one. I did 3 sets of each of those then we all switched round and me and the other doing skipping and stairs went to the mirrors and the bags, which we also did 3 of, without any break between other than the squats or push ups. It was intense and really pushed my fitness so that by the last couple of sets I was having to really dig deep and pull out my reserves.

We then grabbed a quick drink before pairing up for some body-sparring (no head shots). At this point the instructor said, "this is not about knocking chunks out of each other, this is about practicing and instilling confidence in you and your partner, not just going to town on them"; might as well have said, "you are with a partner not an opponent" and I was really glad he was promoting that attitude. I had a two really good fights with a guy called Jee-Pee (short for James-Phillip, or James Phillips, I believe) who seemed like a cool guy and we had some rapport as sparring partners. I was then paired with one of the younger ones so I went pretty easy on him, but my last match was with Blair (which I think is his actual name and  I was wrong before), the big guy I mentioned in my last post. This was tricky as he is both taller and a lot broader than me, so I had to really make the most of my speed and agility to get in round his guard, but don't you worry, I managed it. I used feints to get him to throw his stopping, defensive jab, which missed as I bounced briefly in, then out then back in again with a super fast with a jab of my own that almost always landed, so I was pleased with that. I also once dodged round his jab and landed a hook into his ribs as the punch he had thrown left him open. Obviously its not as though I didn't take a couple of hits, but because we weren't going all out it made for a very satisfying match after which no bruises were left.

After this we did a rotation between shadow-boxing in the mirrors while holding weights or while holding onto elasticated bands attached to the wall. The idea was to keep a steady rhythm of jab - cross - jab - cross going for the 1.5 minutes. The instructor was calling out, "if you're tired that's good, and you can slow down but don't stop, never stop completely" and I did my best to keep it up but by this point it was getting hard and I was digging deeper and deeper all the time to find more energy. When the buzzer went for the last 30 seconds, well put the weights down and just tried to keep punching as fast as we could for as much of that 30 seconds as we could. We did one set of that with the weights and one set with the ropes and then moved on.

After that the next port of call was "300s". We paired up, and one of the pair had to do 100 leg raises, lying flat on the floor (not lifting all the way up, but with about an 18" range of motion, with never putting them down on the floor). While they were doing that, the other partner had to run up and down the stairs, as before. Once partner A was done with the abs work out, partner B stopped running and you switched, so A ran while B did leg raises. We then did this with 100 crunches and for 50 side crunches on each side. This was kinda hard, but I'd like to think I have pretty good abdominal strength so I felt I could handle it. I was paired with JeePee again and we were motivating each other well between sets and this helped me keep going throughout.

We finished up with plank, doing 30 seconds of front, 30 seconds on each side, then 30 seconds more on front, which was really good and I was glad to get some core-strength exercises in.

Overall the class was tough, but really really good and I felt great at the end, plus there are no real aches or pains this morning which I think is a good sign. Overall, I had a better time with the boxing instructor than at the Kyokushin, plus there seems less chance of injury and more chance of pushing my fitness levels up. I think some sort of  balance between the two would be ideal, as the cross-training with boxing would be really good. Also, at the weekends they have "head-sparring" matches, so if I wanted a bit more heavy contact I could probably find it there.

If we make it over to the hot springs today it should be a nice way to relax after the physical exertions of last night. Also all the drinking.


Thursday, 4 November 2010

Local Wildlife.

Some more deer were hanging out in our garden today, this time with a buck:

Pretty cool . . .

Few more pictures.

Me and Alex went for a little walk along the river so here are some pictures . . .

We might take a bus ride up the hot springs today, more on that story later.

Sold Out

We got up to the Banff center last night for the snow show but it was sold out, so after Miguel managed to chance his way in by showing his stamp from last night me and Alex just headed back to the Chalet and had crashed with a new couple that have moved in.
Kat and Will have moved into one of the rooms downstairs that's bigger, and last night Shane and Aven moved in, a Canadian couple from Vancouver Island, so we just hung out with them. 

No plans today, but I think I'll have to find something to do other than sitting around in the chalet. I'll at least go for a walk around town, maybe get a bus over to Lake Louise and see that or something. 

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


Took my boots down to the ski shop and left them with them to set up the bindings as I said. They said I could pick up in the next couple of days, so I'll go down on Friday and hopefully they'll be ready and I'll get some pictures up for you all to gawp at.

I also bought some sunglasses, ones with pretty decent UV protection and all that Jazz. I would put a picture up but I'm still keen enough to conceal my flagrant vanity that I refuse to take photos of myself, in the mirror, myspace style or, indeed, at all.

Will and I will probably play a little hock again this afternoon in the carpark with some sticks that were left in the chalet and a street hockey ball he bought, which has been pretty fun, although I'm obviously only just getting to grips with how it works.

There's another Film Festival event on tonight, "the snow show" with, as you might expect, films about boarding and skiing, so that should be pretty cool. Plus I expect we might go out to Sasquatch again.


Banff Mountain Film Festival

Yesterday me and Alex went to the Banff Mountain Film Festival "Radical Reels" show, which was a compilation of independent films about extreme sports: long boarding, solo-base-climbing,
I Just saw an advert on T.V. here for Eggs. Not a particular brand of eggs, just an advert for eating eggs. "Eggs: for energetic people." I had been impressed by the crudeness of the Viagra adverts which, shown throughout the day, showed people who were late for things with the clear implication that it was because they had been making use of their Viagra. To be honest this is not how I would choose to advertise it: "Viagra: will make your sex-drive so insatiable you will be late for everything." Perhaps these pills are a little too potent . . . After the advert for eggs, I then saw another advert for Eggs, in the same advert break, which seemed to be attempting to dispel some aggressive and slanderous rumors about eggs being spread throughout Canada. This is not something I have encountered, but inspired by the valiant efforts of this advert, I'll be sure to defend eggs with gusto and aplomb at any opportunity. I do also quite want to eat some eggs right now.

Back to the film festival.
So, a couple of the films of particular note.
One I enjoyed and was very impressed by was of a daredevil climber who had combined the disciplines of solo-free-climbing and and B.A.S.E Jumping, whereby he would try and free-climb cliff faces that were almost invariably too difficult for him to climb, and when he fell off he would pull the chord on the parachute and float down to safety. He described the feeling as being able "to turn the worst thing ever to the best thing ever: dying to flying." He had devised this, the most extreme of sports, so that he could push his body to, and indeed beyond, the limit of what it was capable of, while still knowing the parachute would save him. It was incredible.

Another were two spoof films, which appealed far more to my English sense of humor than the dangerously Canadian humor of the compare who was mostly just a little annoying. One was, "Parking Garage: Extreme!" (or something similar), which was the story of a man climbing the stairs to the roof of a parking garage, and across the roof the "summit", presented as if it was everest. It was in a similar vein to the old Dead Ringers sketch about Elen McCarthur (spelling?) cleaning her house, and pretty funny.
The other of these was called, "Cross Country Snowboarding", a spoof sport where Snowboarders have to hop along on flat ground, making light of how stupid snowboarders look when they run out of momentum on flat ground and have to jump along. It was also done pretty well and made me chuckle.

The last video in the show was a bit of a disappointment. It was a documentary about some pretty hard core kayakers who went to all the most dangerous rivers in the world and kayaked down them. It was very impressive and the locations were incredible but it went on for far too long, and could have done with some serious editing to make it a more nicely contained piece. It seemed it had 3 different films in it: one about their quest to find the best rivers / rapids, one about their quest to find the best waterfall drops, which ended in them breaking the record for the biggest one, and one about one of them who, as a 15 year old, nearly died on a river in Norway, then returned to it 8 years later to conquer it. The filmmakers were at the festival, and at the end got the prize for best film, judged on a seemingly very prescribed "clap-o-metre" judgement.

After this we went home where we caught up with Miguel who had also been there, and after grabbing a quick bite to eat and a couple of beers Miguel and I went out to the Dancing Sasquatch (a club in town) for the after party.  The kayak film guys who had won the $350 prize were there, as well as a coupe of French guys who had made the film that was runner up for the prize. The Kayak guys were a lot of fun and bought everyone drinks, which meant I didn't spent a single cent all night - cash-back! I also spent a while talking to the French guys who were really cool, so although the club wasn't very busy it was a cool night.

Right now Alex and I are enjoying the treat that is Canadian day-time T.V. Later on I'm gonna take my boots down to get the bindings on my skis set and bring them back to the chalet. I'll take a couple more pictures then and throw them up on here.


Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Found some skis.

While walking round town today with Alex, browsing in a bunch of ski shops, I got talking with a friendly salesman, who after I asked if they had any ex-rentals produced some of his "high quality demo skis", which I think meant that they were one that had been used as demonstration skis, but in short they were dramatically reduced in price. I had these put aside (the sort-of-gold coloured ones on the right):

As you can see they're real fat pow-pow skis that should also let me tear up some downhill. I figured, I'm not much of a park skier, and if I really wanted to bust some tricks I could always rent some twin-tips for a day.
The bindings are really nice too, and they're a steal at less than $500.


Monday, 1 November 2010


Something I really appreciated was that we spent the last 25 minutes of class doing partner stretching, at which point the heat in the Dojo and the intense sparring meant I was able to really push my flexibility and get into some deep stretching.


One for the martial arts types.

I went to my first kyokushin session this evening and enjoyed it very much. It was a good work out in a very small (and so very hot) Dojo, which had me sweating, although I wasn't particularly challenged in terms of cardiovascular fitness.

So, what are the principle differences between Kyokushin and Tang Soo Do?
In Kyokushin, all the sparring is full contact, and I definitely took a couple of big hits which I'll feel in the morning. I thought this was good, as it forces the students to really be able to defend themselves, in the knowledge that any lapse in concentration will lead to bruises. I do think it led to something that Alex Campbell, my esteemed instructor, is wary of, whereby students stick to a few relied upon techniques, rarely going beyond this limited repertoire. I think some slowed down sparring would be good, and there was little to none of the "partner not an opponent" attitude cultivated in Tang Soo Do, none of the back and forth, giving each other the opportunity to experiment or try to add to their arsenal of effective techniques.
That being said, it's clearly led to some very capable martial artists.

Another principle difference is in the format of tournament sparring, in which combatants spar for 2 or 3 continues minutes, no points are recorded, and at the end 5 judges each decide who they consider to have had the best of it, and that person wins. Had I known this was the case, rather than points, I would have taken the initiative and gone on the offensive earlier than I did. This is also because I found that, as someone who is quick, and also (I would like to think) able to identify and exploit moments where an opponent's guard is open or a target area exposed, I could, with some work, find myself with the upper hand.

Moreover, there are only two rules in sparring: No punches to the head and no kicking in the balls. However, low kicks are allowed, and in my 3rd pairing I took a couple of whacks to the legs from a clearly experienced martial artist, whose orange belt (one up from white, as in Tang Soo Do), was rather a deception. So, having spent two matches relying on evasion and pretty well ignoring low blows, I was caught heavily in the thigh by this young man, called Jake. He kicks were precise and efficient, delivering considerably power. This is something I am going to have to learn to do, as the touch-control we practice in Tang Soo Do did not stand up to the power Jake routinely executed his kicks with. He also had an excellent hook which has left a nice red mark on my chest. I also wanted to pick Jake out, as he was training with a disability: his right arm was not fully formed, ending (approximately) at the elbow. He clearly did not allow this to affect the way he trained, and his determination and overall attitude really picked him out as a truly exceptional martial artist for me.
The no punches to the head rule was difficult for me, as it ruled out the high backfist on which I rely for stopping opponents short. I find that the ability to step in on an incoming kick and deliver a back fist to the head is an invaluable part of one's arsenal, but it was completely written off by the rule. I quickly noticed that because of this rule, many of the students held their guards with their heads fairly exposed, something I would have loved to have been able to take advantage of, were it not for this limitation.

Overall, the class was very good, and all the students were welcoming and seemed like a really nice bunch of guys. The atmosphere was good, and the instructor struck a nice balance between discipline and informality, although he was maybe a little over keen to get across how he had a "background in street fighting". That being said, he seemed like a good instructor (though perhaps not quite Geoff Keerie) and he was very appreciative of my very different style and the new techniques I introduced. I feel I managed to throw Jake a few curve balls with my patented step behind side kick off the front leg, and a nice jump back kick I popped up into (with some alacrity, if I say so myself) to cut one of his attacks short. Alex Campbell's favorite, the Backfist reverse punch combo of doom, also served me well.

Things to think about for next time?
I need to be able to land techniques with power rather than snapping in and out with touch control, so that I can respond to Japanese stylists' power in kind.
I was also aware of the (idiosyncratically Japanese) efficiency, whereby fights can come down to one, powerful, disabling technique, and think that as long as I can stay on the front foot and use my speed to full effect I'll be able to take control, although this may not be so much the case against Blake (I think was his name), a very large and hairy white belt who although I outclassed in refinement of technique and speed, I could never stand up to in terms of power.
If I'm going to continue to train, I'm going to have to get some more appropriate clothing, as the sweats and sports top I wore were a little bit constricting and definitely not ideal in the very small, very hot Dojo.
I was a little held back by not having any pads with me which meant I was conscious of needing to not go all out, but it was very satisfying to give and take a few good hits, and tomorrow will certainly be a rather achy one for me, particularly in my legs where Jake landed some nice kicks.

All in all, a good training session and a good club that I look forward to going back to. The only thing that might reasonably hold me back from continuing to train is the price, but I may be able to negotiate something.

A pleasantly tired and satisfyingly bruised Jon out.

Tunnel Mountain

Here are a couple of pictures from Halloween, this is Miguel as "The Amazing Clown Man":
Yes, he is genuinely juggling those bats, what a hero. This is Kat, as "cat":

No, she's not genuinely eating that rat . . . nor is it a genuine rat.

In other news, Alex and I went for a walk up Tunnel Mountain, which is just behind our chalet. It was a cool little walk and there were some great views from the top:

So, its been another good day here, although it's been a little damp this afternoon, let's hope that's a sign that some snow is on the way soon .
I think tonight we'll be staying in with a few beers watching some NFL and some Baseball.
Over and out.

Getting things sorted.

Got my Canadian bank account set up with the Bank of Montreal today; things continue to fall into place.
Obviously, I don't have any money in it yet, so it's pretty much useless till I start work.
I went and looked around for a Canadian sim card or phone or something too but it seems phones in Canada are crazy expensive, they pay 40 cents per minute for calls and 15 cents per texts, and they have to pay for bock sending and receiving calls and texts, so pay as you go works out to some ridiculous amount of money. A guy showed me and Alex a deal for $50 a month which looked ok, but seeing as I'm not gonna buy anything until I've started work and have money coming in, because I don't wanna pay for it from an English account to avoid losing money on the exchange rate and charges for paying from a foreign account, I might as well just wait and shop around a bit online or whatever.

In other news, they don't have Sub of the Day here, which is lame.

Day three

Halloween was a very good night last night, went round to another GYC chalet where some of Will and Kat's (my flatmates) friends from Plymouth Uni. are staying, then from there out to The Devils Gap and then HooDoo. Met a lot of people and had a good time.

I've looked up the local martial arts club, a Kyokushin Dojo. It looks pretty good, led by a 4th Dan and a 2nd Dan (I think). There's a class tonight so I think  I'll go along, but from looking at the website you have to pay upfront for the whole season or something, which it says is about $200, plus becoming a member of the club and getting the handbook, another $40 or so, so it may be a little dearer than the club back home.

Still, the first class is free so if maybe if it's really good I'll think about it, and maybe the instructor will be able to be a bit flexible. To be honest, I don't think there's much point me becoming a member  seeing as I'll only be training while out here, and I'll have to see how the session lasts for and if I could get some sort of discount for only being here over the winter. However all that turns out, I think its worth heading down to the class this evening and taking a look.

In other news, Alex and I will be going down with Nancy to open our Canadian bank accounts today, I'm sure that'll be fine, and I'm thinking about going for a walk up the hill behind our chalet on Will and  Kat's recommendation. 

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Made it!

It's now my second day here and feelign pretty settled in now. Everyone in my flat is here now, I'm sharing with Alex, Will, Kay and Miguel, all very cool people.
I've gotten a bunch of the stuff I was planning on, including this netbook, which I thought would be . . . good. Look at it compared to the size of my hand . . .

The chalet is really cool, here are a couple of pictures of my room and our living room, kitchen.

That's Miguel you can see a little bit of, I'll put some pictures of everyone up sometime.

Tonight is Halloween, which is a pretty big deal here so we're all going out, I got myself a cheap batman mask  and I've been practicing my Christian Bale style batman voice. Should be a good night!
While typing this, Will, sitting with me and Alex watching some gentle Sunday afternoon Nascar (woop) said, "some local wildlife for you there." I looked out the french door to the balcony and saw this:

So, things are pretty sweet here.
Over and out.