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.

Black Eyed Peas make noise at Calgary Saddledome

Shortly after settling into Calgary we purchased tickets to see the Black Eyed Peas (BEP) as we had heard they are renowned for putting on a good show.  The show was Tuesday night and after finishing work and a quick bite to eat we made our way to the Pengrowth Saddledome.

The Saddledome is comparable in size to the Sydney Entertainment Centre but instead of hosting basketball games it is normally home to the Calgary Flames hockey team.  Costing $100 million to build in 1983 the saddledome is a very nice sporting venue but this is where its biggest downfall comes to light.  The Saddledome has the acoustics of an empty aircraft hanger!  It is obvious that it was built as a sports venue and concerts were merely an afterthought.

While BEP put a solid performance in they were let down by a terrible concert venue.  At best we could hear a mish-mash of reverberating echos and nonsensical distortion.  They are an incredibly dynamic group with 4 artists that could easily stand on their own.  From Fergie performing single handed cartwheels while singing to drumming with right hand whilst rapping into his mic held in left hand.  I can only imagine how much better it would have been if we could have understood/heard them.

Would we see BEP again? – Yes, I’d even recommend you see them too if your into that kind of music (or have 12 – 16 year old daughters).

Would we see another gig at the Saddledome? – Not a chance!


Calgary in Fall


Bow River Calgary
Originally uploaded by simmogem.

After a leisurely day at home Simon and I decided to head out in the late afternoon across the 14th St Bridge for a stroll along the river. We are now in Fall and as you can see the trees have turned red and orange and the ground has a decent covering. The city looks quite pretty underlined by the river and trees and it is only a 5min walk from our place. I think Simon and I shall make this a regular evening walk (until it gets too cold of course).

Head on to Flickr where we have posted a few more photos which give a good idea of how pretty the trees are along the Bow River Walkway.

Trekking in Tibet

williamjans2.jpgNo, Gemma and I haven’t decided to follow Derek and Sue into Asia, but a perk of working at Vistek has finally popped its head.  A gentleman by the name of Willam Jans has been in our store a few times over the last week.  He is a well known photographer, famous for the image to the right which has been used in many Canon advertisments. 

Jans had been promoting his multimedia shows with some leaflets in our store and when the Saturday evening show did not sell out he came in and gave out 4 tickets.  Two went to other colleagues and one each for Gemma and I.

Not knowing exactly what to expect we rocked up to the Calgary Libray Theatre and took our seats for what turned out to be a very inspiring presentation.  Jans is an amazing photographer with stunning images of Laos, Tibet and Mt Everest (which he climbed to advance base camp 4 – 6500 metres).  Jan is also a great story teller.  He captures your attention and lets you experience the rickety Lao Air plane with him and makes you thankful that you don’t have to experience the parasite infections and altitude sickness.

On a technical side (for Dad and Derek), Jans still uses film (Kodak Ektachrome slide film) and due to weight limitations shot only 65 36exposure rolls in the two and a half months of this trip.  For this reason he is very particular with how he uses his film and if he can not get a perfect shot in 1 or 2 attempts he will not even try.  For example the above image was captured in a single shot, no motor drive used.  Fairly impressive and an ability that will no doubt be lost with the impact of digital.

Seeing a 90lb backpack that contained only two changes of clothes gives perspective to our adventures in Canada. While Tibet and Southern China would be amazing to see, I don’t think we would approach it in the same way Jans did.   However we have been inspired when next we travel to put ourselves out a little more in order to bring back more unique memories.  Unfortunatley the most unique place we plan to see on our tour was probably Alaska which has come and gone.  Oh well, we can still tell of the fisherman and our herbal conversation.


The Illusionist


Its a slow day at vistek today as the rain has begun to fall so I have time to write a short review of a movie we saw yesterday.  Gemma and I finally have managed to get a few days off at the same time lately.  This is as much a review of a North American Cinema experience as it is of the movie though.

A short ride on the C-Train took us to the Paramount Cinemas at Chinook.  They are fairly new cinemas and have an Imax screen which was showing Superman Returns in 3-D.  I can’t imagine how big the Imax screen must be as the regular cinema that we were in was much bigger than back home with steep stadium style seating.

They actually have a Burger King and Pizza Hut inside the cinema complex so you don’t have to smuggle your hot food in under your shirt – they actively encourage it (with inflated prices of course).

Now on to the movie.  I’m a big fan of Edward Norton so its no suprise that I enjoyed the film.  Norton plays Eisenheim, a brilliant stage magician, who falls out of favour with the local police and crown prince over Dutchess Sophie von Teschen (Jesscia Biel).

A good mix of magic, mystery and romance that made for a very enjoyable film. I’d strongly recommend seeing this (is it out in Aus yet?).

– Simon