Goodbye Calgary

Simon the Removalists

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

We returned from the Rockies and donned our removalists hats for the task of packing up our things ready for our move to Toronto. We hired the van and filled it with our wordly goods (its amazing what you accumulate in four months!) and headed off the the inter-faith furniture store.

On the way home we had a big Brekky at Nellies, which set us up for our day of cleaning. This brings us to today, we had our inspection, gave back the keys and headed to the airport for our flight to Toronto.

We are excited to be going but also sad to be leaving. We enjoyed our time in Calgary and will miss the friends we made. Calgary was an interesting city, a mix of country town and city, Calgary is slower paced than Sydney, but still had a lot to offer. Without being too negaitve we were concerned about the drug epidemic that has led to a high rate of homelesseness and poverty in the city. We were regulary asked for money when walking downtown and felt that the problem really tarnished downtown Calgary. We enjoyed 17th Avenue though and had a number of favourite eating spots. We also enjoyed our long afternoons at Chinook Mall followed by a movie.

To everyone in Calgary who contributed to our time there, thank you and we look forward to keeping in touch and perhaps seeing you in Sydney some time!


Calgary Zoo

Calgary Zoo – Gopher

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

I should probably have titled this ‘Simon borrows a D200 from Vistek’ as thats no doubt going to feature more in the content.

So…yeah… Gemma and I went to the Calgary Zoo on Sunday and there was lots of animals…. Back to the camera…. droool!

Vistek kindly allows staff to borrow the rental equipment overnight for nothing if it isn’t wanted by a customer. If you grab something on a Saturday afternoon you can have it all day Sunday too as the store isn’t open.

I grabbed a Nikon D200 camera and Nikon 80-200mm 2.8 lens worth well over $4000 Australian dollars in total with intentions of shooting some kids at the skate park on Sunday afternoon (shooting the camera that is). Gemma suggested we visit the zoo instead which turned out to be a much better idea.

I like to think I know a little about photography and how to take a good photo but a camera like this and fast glass lens could make anyone a Pro. The depth of field, colour reproduction, speed of auto focus is amazing… makes me want to pull out the credit card just thinking about it. I’ve only put a few images up on flickr as they take a while to upload and our internet connection hasn’t been to fast lately.

I guess I should mention something about the zoo while I’m here too. The photos of owls and numerous other birds I took were only possible as you are allowed to walk (unsupervised) through the averies, metres from large birds of prey. I commented to a co-worker today that you could reach out and touch some of them if it wasn’t for the fear of having your eyes scratched out or hand torn off.

While the African, Australian and other foreign (to Canada) displays were fairly typical of other zoo’s, we very much enjoyed the Canadian display with Elk, Bison, various birds and finaly our first Moose sighting. Well mainly it was a moose’s arse but a moose none the less.

Well I’m off to bed now, going to dream about D200s and other expensive camera equipment.


Goodbye Chintz

Chintz front counter

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Saturday was my last shift at Chintz and Co. and whilst I was pleased to get off my feet I am a little sad to be leaving. A very different job to my one back home that’s for sure, and not one I could do for the rest of my working life but one I certainly have had fun in over the last three months.

Chintz added a little sparkle and tizz to my time in Calgary and helped me get in touch with the home decorator within. I never expected I would get so excited over the unveiling of a new vase or the debut of gourmet pesto, but at Chintz its hard not to get caught up in it all darlings.

But alas it is time to move on, so with a few purchases tucked under my arm I walked one last time through the store just to be sure my displays where in order, the staff where behaving (yeah right) and to commit to memory the colour, shine and pizazz of Chintz..

Calgary Zombie Walk

Calgary Zombie Walk

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

On the 14 October Calgary was overtaken by the walking undead for a few hours. Quite a scary site as initially we had no idea what was going on. Apparently this was the second annual Calgary Zombie Walk. I have searched and searched but there doesn’t really seem to be a reason or cause for this but around 500 Calgarians were motivated by something to climb from their graves and wander the city.

A few observations:

Female readers – if you pass on wearing fishnet stockings your chances of roaming the city screaming ‘brains’ increases dramatically.

Scientists (I’m not sure if this includes science teachers) seem to also be over represented. Something to do with experiments going wrong I guess.

The zombie seen here was the only one polite enough to stop and pose for a photo but there are tons more on Flickr. The efforts some went to with make up and props is worth a look.


Happy Birthday to us

Our laptop bag

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

Well it is the morning after and while a little bit of birthday euphoria still lingers I thought I ought to write home about our big 25 birthday. It started with a 7:30am phone call from Mum and Kimberley and was followed by eggs and ham on toast and present opening!

Simon and I bought each other new warm jackets for our impending move to Toronto (you can see Simon modelling his on Flickr), also a travel game of battleship, a world clock, a new touque (beanie) and some hankies. All important gifts for backpack travellers!

Our day was very relaxing, we headed to Lougheed house for lunch and then to Cafe Beano for a cappaccino and a peanut butter and choc chip cookie (birthday cake substitute).

p.s. Thanks Mum for the new laptop bag

Calgary Hitmen vs Kamaloops Blazers


Hitman fight
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

I know I said we wouldn’t go back to the Saddledome for another gig but this is a bit different. Friday night we went and saw our first live Hockey match, thanks go to my colleague Chris for getting us tickets.

We tried to get tickets to see an NHL game but couldn’t as they sold out so settled for this WHL junior league game. We don’t know any of the players so it didn’t make much difference anyway.

The WHL is a development league for the national hockey league and is much like the Rugby Colts I played in back home but with far more money involved. It seems amazing that a junior division can attract a crowd of what I guess would have been 8,000 odd and have tickets prices of up to $25. The games are even televised!

Back to the game, Unfortunately the Hitmen lost 3-2 but it was an exciting game. The highlight being the fight that broke out mid game. Unlike any Australian sport, inorder to have a go at someone the players first take off their helmet and gloves. This gives an almost orchestrated look to the fight which ended with the two players smothered by 3 refs (see photo) followed by some quality time in the penalty box.

Oh and there was the kid that copped a stick to the head… nice wound there.

The strange thing was though, the sound was very good. Far better than the Black Eye Peas concert. Could it be that a junior hockey team has a better sound engineer than an International pop group?

Thanksgiving in the Park


Originally uploaded by simmogem.

After a Thanksgiving roast, complete with pumpkin pie, Simon and I took a walk into dowtown and and across the bridge into Prince’s Island Park. This little critter has plenty of friends, with a number of squirrels scurrying across the pathway clasping their nuts.

It was a pleasent afternoon but with the temp. dropping to about 5 degrees we were both keen to get home for a cup of coffee and another piece of pie.


Steinbeck in Calgary

Of Mice and MenOne rainy afternoon at the Lawrence’s I came across an old copy of John Steinbeck’s 1930’s novel ‘Of Mice and Men’. It is a story of friendship set in a world of despair, lonliness and poverty, sometimes comic but also tragic as a number of the charaters deal with their own isolation and loss.

When Simon and I saw that it was playing in Calgary and a colleague of mine (whose husband is the performing arts editor for the Calgary Herald) said it was good we booked tickets for Thursday night’s performance. After some great fish and chips in the front parlour of Alexander Keith’s Irish Pub we headed to the Max Bell Theatre. Unlike the Saddledome, Simon and I thought this venue was great. The layout was such that whilst we were four rows from the front had we got tickets in say the balcony they still would have been great.

As for the play, it was fantastic. The set was brilliant, with many of the set changes conducted under dim lights by the actors adding to the feeling that you were on a working farm and also giving the audience the opportunity to see how clever the set design was. The actors captured the tension of Steinbeck’s novel and whilst I knew the story I felt like I was taking the emotional journey for the first time. In particular I enjoyed the roles played by some of the supporting characters who added comic relief but also emphasised some of the important issues covered in the script. For those who know the story I thought Candy’s character was great. Without going into too much detail and spoiling it for those who wish to read the novel, the closing scene was very dramatic, I know I walked out of the theatre a little shakey. Simon and I are now on the lookout for our next live performance, probably in Toronto. 

mmmm chocolate…

Santa Clause

Originally uploaded by simmogem.

After our night out we thought what better way to spend the next morning than at the Bernard Callebaut choclotate factory (well I did anyway).

As we decended the stairway into the viewing corridor the smell of cocoa and chocolate hit you and moments later there it was, flowing, dripping, melting … oops I m drooling.

The highlight was the giant chocolate Santa and a few samples in the chocolate shop at the end of our self guided tour. A bit of background on Beranrd Callebaut – his family home was next door to his grandfathers chocolate factory in Belgium and after what can only be described as a sweet upbringing he set up an arm of the family business here in Calgary. He now has 36 stores, including one in Tokyo and four in the United States.

Needless to say we bought a bar of the dark chocolate with almonds, which I intend to enjoy with a good cup of coffee and a glass of port!


p.s. Check out some of our other photo’s, one for the Comrade’s back home, the Hose and Hound, an old fire station converted into a pub.