Tag Archives: skating

A Christmas Card from Quebec City

Fairy tale castles and ice; quaint houses from the seventeenth century and city walls; seasonal decorations – from traditional ribbon and foliage to a very creative use of shiny colanders – and a magical festival of lights; ‘bols’ of coffee and hot chocolate, patisserie to die for (or from!) and wonderful ‘boreal’ food, both traditional and modern; and, above all, a gloriously festive feel.

Quebec City - The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Quebec City - The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Quebec City - Aux Anciens Canadiens Quebec City - Aux Anciens Canadiens, the oldest house in Quebec City, built 1675-6 Quebec City - The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac Quebec City - The Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Festival des Lumières de Québec Festival des Lumières de Québec Quebec City - ice! Quebec City - ice! Quebec City - Novel decorations Quebec City - Novel decorations Festival des Lumières de Québec Festival des Lumières de Québec
Quebec City  - Le Croquembouche - Boulangerie Pâtisserie Quebec City - Le Croquembouche - Boulangerie Pâtisserie Quebec City - JA Moisan Quebec City - JA Moisan, the oldest grocer in North America Gina with a 'bol' of coffe at Cafe Hobbit Gina with a 'bol' of coffe at Cafe Hobbit

Although it was -27C on Christmas Day, the sun was shining and we must have walked over 8km through thesnow on the Plains of Abraham before a short skate a Place Youville, just outside the old city walls.

Quebec City - On the Plains of Abraham Quebec City - On the Plains of Abraham Quebec City - On the Plains of Abraham Quebec City - On the Plains of Abraham Quebec City - Place Youville Quebec City - Place Youville

A definite highlight was the return trip on the ferry across the St. Lawrence to Levis, something a friend had suggested as offering wonderful views of Quebec City, which it did. But even more amazing to us was the experience of cutting through the ice, watching and hearing it crack – mesmerizing and meditative. It also amused us to see two ice canoe teams out practising for the winter carnival competition – only in Canada!

Quebec City - ice! Quebec City - ice!
Quebec City - ice canoe Quebec City - ice canoe Quebec City - ice! Quebec City - ice! Quebec City - Paul on the ferry Quebec City - Paul on the ferry

We also loved an innovative interactive journey through time at the Maison historique Chevalier and re-cap of the military history of the City at Le Musée du Fort using model soldiers and battleships, complete with sound, light and miniature explosions. After five hours at Les Musées de la Civilisation we were ‘museumed out’, but had played our way through the history of computer games, discovered Quebec artist Pierre Gauvreau, immersed ourselves in what it means to be aboriginal in the 21st century and more.

But for us, one of the real joys of any city visit is simply to wander, to notice the quirkiness and contradictions, to find small back-street restaurants and cafés.

Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City
Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City Quebec City - ladder for cats only! Quebec City - ladder for cats only! Quebec City Quebec City

Quebec City will be hard to beat for an urban white Christmas!

Another tick on the bucket list . . .

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to skate a canal. Last weekend we laid claim to some ‘real winter’ and headed to Ottawa to skate the Rideau during the Winterlude festival – pure magic!

Skating the Rideau Skating the Rideau Skating the Rideau - made it! Skating the Rideau - made it! Paul enjoying a Beavertail! Paul enjoying a Beavertail!

We were lucky – this weekend, as for most of this year, the ice is closed. The ice may have been ‘poor’, but we skated all 7.8km of the world’s longest skating rink (at an average skating speed of 5.25 mph and a top speed of just over 9mph!). We stopped for a free technical lesson along the way, not to mention for hot chocolate and  ‘Beavertails’ (a Canadian classic!).

Snowflake Kingdom - ice slides Snowflake Kingdom - ice slides Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving Snowflake Kingdom - tubing Snowflake Kingdom - tubing

Then on to Snowflake Kingdom, a wondrous winter playground for the young and young at heart (we couldn’t resist the ice slide!).

Later, after night fell, we were enchanted by the ice carvings in Confederation Park, probably not quite as exquisite as when they were carved a week before, given the freeze/thaw cycle of this winter, but still lovely.

Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park - War Memorial Ice Carvings - Confederation Park - War Memorial

Winter festivals are awesome!!!

Snowflake Kingdom - snow carving I have new aspirations when building a snowman . . . Ice Carvings - Confederation Park Ice Carvings - Confederation Park The phantom statue's return? The phantom statue's return?

(See the Ottawa – Winter Album in the photo gallery for more pictures)

Skating at Sherbourne Common

Our new favourite place to skate

Shh! Don’t tell anyone. We almost have our own private rink with a view . . . (The down side is that it’s a bit unpredictable when and if the Zamboni will have come, so the ice is sometimes great and sometimes not!). This is part of the new port lands development, more or less next to Corus at Sherbourne Common.

  Skating at Sherbourne Common Skating at Sherbourne Common - a rink to ourselves (and yes, there are two Ginas . . .)

And yes, there are two of me, a trick I wish I could replicate in other areas of my life.

The perfect day–Christmas starts here!

Yesterday was one of those glorious days that nourish you to the core. Our first snowfall – really just a long flurry of motes mixed with the occasional feather dusting the ground – then blue skies; The AGO – Henry Moore (early works, full of the anguish of his response to his war-time experiences) and the Maharajas (fabulous, especially the Rolls Royce and the tabla player and Kathac dancer; too many pancakes (crepes) with delectable fillings (we ate the sweet followed by the savoury!); then on to Nathan Phillips Square for our first skate of the season, this year’s sole Cavalcade of Lights (the square is being refurbished) to launch the Christmas season, with live music, the lighting of the tree and some of the best fireworks I’ve ever seen – City Hall is a fabulous backdrop, the window reflections augmenting the show.

This was also the occasion of our first skate in Canada last year and looks set to be an enduring tradition – I felt the total pleasure and wonder of a six year old for much of the day – what a great start to Christmas!

A skate in the park

I hope the ability just to pop down to the park to skate never looses its magic! This is a natural rink – no fences, no Zamboni to clean the ice, just the good-will and hard work of local people to  top the water levels up and clear the snow.

Skating at Glen Stewart Skating at Glen Stewart School children at Glen Stewart