Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ottawa Folk Festival

Here we are in Ottawa once again, this time for the 15th annual Ottawa Folk Festival. There are some big names on the mainstage this year (Broken Social Scene, Sarah Harmer, Rufus Wainwright), but I expect that, as always, it's the bands you discover over the course of the weekend workshops that really make the festival special.

My man and the Francophone drove out ahead of us on Wednesday evening in order to make a couple of public presentations at the Museum of Civilization on Thursday and Friday, so the Photographer and I flew out together Friday evening - on Porter Airlines! My first flight from the island airport - I was so excited to be able to walk there from work. Perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised to see protesters just outside the terminal building - but the airport is so much a part of my everyday life that I forget there are folks who still object to it. I can see it from our office window, and I don't find the noise of the jet engines any more or less noticeable than the streetcars that rattle along Queens Quay day all day long. And the planes are so beautiful - elegant and sleek, their flight fascinates me in the same way it did when I was small - there is something so splendid about seeing them that close, whooshing across your line of vision.

Sadly, my first Porter flight was not as smooth as it could have been. Bad weather wherever our plane flew in from, combined with bad weather here in Toronto, meant our 7pm flight didn't leave until 8pm. And once we'd boarded, there was a further half an hour delay with a checked bag missing a passenger. But at last we were up in the air! A glass of wine and a boxed snack later, we were in Ottawa. Fantastic!

Euan from the Festival office was on hand to pick us up, and we grabbed our bags and hit the road - it's a half our drive to the hotel. Five minutes down the highway, Euan's cell phone rang to ask if we could go back to the airport and pick up one more passenger - so back we went. Fifteen minutes later, we were back in the car with our addition - Dallas Good of the Sadies, fresh from the Havelock County Jamboree.

We arrived at the festival hotel, the Brookstreet, in Kanata, by 11pm, and found my Man and the Francophone drinking wine in our room. We shared couple of glasses and a Caesar salad from room service, and then off to bed.

Saturday morning we met at 8am for breakfast in the hotel's restaurant before heading over to the festival site at Britannia Park. The boys all had the enormous but delicious-looking breakfast buffet - but I had the Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon - and I'm glad I did! They were perfect, and there was no way I could have done justice to the buffet.

Arriving at the site, we discovered the organizers had put us in the Dance Tent - a huge big-top style tent with a full stage and elaborate lighting rig, in front of which was laid an enormous sprung plywood dance floor. As you'd guess, the music programmed in this tent was chosen with dancing in mind - everything from Cajun to bluegrass to samba, rock and country. Some of these choices were less successful than others, but it was a brilliant idea, and the audience seemed to love it - especially the children.

Because we had the Francophone with us, my help wasn't required to run the photo booth (it's a three man job), so I was free to watch the bands performing in the tent, and to wander the site and catch some of the music being made elsewhere. Musical highlights of the weekend - for me - were Donna the Buffalo, and a fantastic workshop with members of D-Rangers, Wil and Lonesome Paul. Lyn Miles was also wonderful - as usual.

Knowing we had a long day ahead of us on Sunday, we opted to eat in the hotel that evening. My man had been raving about a wonderful appetizer he'd had the night they arrived, and so we checked out the restaurant menu before heading upstairs to shower and change. The most intriguing option was the prix fixe menu, comprised of four courses for $50 - except between 8pm and 9pm, when you could choose three of the four courses for only $30. Sign us up! We convened in the lobby at 8:30pm and were sipping aperitifs by 8:45pm.

We all started with a cocktail: Pernod for my Man and the Photographer, a dry gin martini with extra olives for the Francophone and I.

All of us ended up choosing exactly the same options from the menu: a tartlet of pulled pork and chanterelle mushrooms to start, followed by "foie gras3"

foie gras sorbet, foie gras foamed and layered in a shot glass, and foie gras in rounds over toast.

Wild boar was the main.

Aside from the boar, which was ever so slightly overdone and didn't really taste "boar-y", the foood was some of the most entertaining, creative and delicious I've had in ages. I should also mention the wine list, which was extensive and exciting - and clearly visible, in the form of five enormous, softly-lit and climate-controlled glass displays forming a pillar - and focal point - in the centre of the restaurant. The service was attentive and professional, and the wait staff were very knowledgeable and eager to talk about the food and drink they were serving. All in all, a very successful evening! And how nice not to have to drive home, but to simply be able to roll oneself gently in the direction of the elevator and bed.

Happy and replete!

Sunday was a scorcher. The tent was stuffy and close by midday, but outside the breeze blew cool from the river, and enormous willows provided welcome shade. Close friends who live in Ottawa came by to visit with their adorable offspring, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon lying in the shade and catching up.

I haven't yet mentioned the festival hospitality because frankly it was not a highlight. Some festivals put a lot of thought and effort into providing varied and healthy backstage hospitality and green room space (Calgary springs to mind immediately), but Ottawa seemed to struggle a bit with its food and drink (I'd imagine it's often a budget issue), and provided mainly variations on the theme of burgers, fries and corn over the two days. All prepared and served by their incredibly pleasant and friendly volunteers, of course!

By the end of the day we were all spent, and only had energy enough for a light meal in the hotel bar. The Photographer and I had the fish and chips (disappointing chips but absolutely exquisite fish), the Francophone had a spinach and goat cheese pizza, and my Man (who felt a cold coming on) had the Thai soup. All accompanied by more of the hotel's delicious wine.

My Man and I had a dish of their beautiful sorbet "to go" and took it back up to our room to enjoy in bed.

Monday we headed home - with the obligatory stop at Pan Chancho in Kingston for pate de campagne, Quebec cheese, take-out sandwiches, and something new - a frozen Tunisian lamb pie. It is still in our freezer, waiting to be consumed…

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ottawa Dragonboat Race Festival: Day One

Rideau Canal

This is our 2nd year at the Ottawa Dragonboat Festival - we spent a very busy weekend there last year (it's not a music festival, so we weren't sure how it would go), and they called us a couple of weeks before the festival this year, saying they'd received word that a grant they'd applied for to fund our return visit had just been approved so could we please come again? My Man was hesitant to accept, since it was my birthday weekend, but the Photographer's wife (the Designer) was free to come along and spend some time playing with me while the two of them worked the festival - so, voilà! A road trip!

We drove up Friday morning, and had reservations at a new Ottawa restaurant for dinner that night. Murray Street: Kitchen | Charcuterie | Wine Bar (are there sweeter words in the English language than charcuterie and wine bar?) had opened its doors just that Monday, and we were looking forward to our visit very much. We were not disappointed!

The menu was double-sided, with one side listing charcuterie and cheese, and the other side featuring the appetizers, salads and main courses. We started with a selection of meat and cheese from the charcuterie page, which came prettily arranged on a large board, accompanied by some pickles and home-made melba toast. We also ordered a wonderful cocktail of watermelon and cucumber juice with vodka. Most refreshing!

The Designer and I, post-cocktail..

We then all shared the Murray Street's interpretation of poutine, made with spaetzle instead of french fries, and topped with duck gravy and local cheese curds. The portion size was just right - not overwhelmingly large - even between the four of us, all you really wanted was just enough to get a feel for the taste of it (which was delightful - the duck gravy is a stroke of genius)!

For our mains, the Designer and my Man decided on the pork, while the Photographer and I each ordered the fish and "chip" - three kinds of fish (pickerel, halibut and tuna) served over a long, rectangular potato pancake. The tuna was slightly overdone, but otherwise the dish was delicious - again, the portion size was perfect.

For dessert, I returned to the cheese menu - a lovely wedge of 7 yr old cheddar which made the inside of my mouth go all tingly.

The others split a deconstructed lemon meringue pie - and seemed to enjoy it very much!

We rolled ourselves back to the hotel, which was only a short walk away, through the quiet downtown Ottawa streets. As we walked, we noticed the setups on Spark Street for Ribfest, also taking place that weekend.....more on that anon.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Festival des guitares du monde

...also known as the International Guitar Festival. It's held annually in Rouyn-Noranda, northern Quebec.

We arrived here Friday morning at around 10:30AM, after driving two hours from the cottage in Cobalt. The drive from Toronto to Rouyn-Noranda takes seven hours, so we broke our journey at the cottage on the way up, and plan to spend Sunday night there on our way home.

This is the furthest north I've ever been (the cottage was my former record), and it's an exciting experience. Rouyn is fairly remote, and the people who live here speak only French - unlike Montreal, where most of the folks I encountered tended to be amicably bilingual. It's also interesting to see such a high ratio of Quebecois artists on the performance roster. There are a number of Big Names (Johnny Winter, America, Bruce Cockburn) but the majority of the performers present are best known within the province.

The festival has booked us rooms at the Hotel Noranda, a surprisingly boutique-y little place connected to the convention centre where the majority of the programming is held. The menu is intriguing, particularly the room service:

It's late May, so still cool up here (plus, it's blackfly season), so the Festival is held largely indoors. We're assigned a space in the convention centre, in a room across the hall from two performance spaces, with a third upstairs, so we are in prime position to attract the attention of audiences as they arrive and depart. We have two laptops with us, and the whole building is wireless, so we use one for registration, and put the other on a little table outside our door, playing a slideshow from our Flickr page. This intrigues people - and they poke their heads into our room curiously, wondering what the fuss is about.

Having the Francophone is in his element here - we truly couldn't manage without him, as my Man and I realize how sadly inadequate our long-ago high school French is. We keep at it, though, and by the end of the weekend my Man is able to describe many of the guitar's elements in language that people are at least pretending to understand.

Being in Quebec with the guitar is different than being in any other province so far. The only one I can compare it to is Newfoundland - there is a similar sense of pride of place here, a fierce possessiveness - of ownership - that you certainly don't see back home. It's more than a little moving.

There are certain obvious elements of the guitar that resonate here: the seat from the Montreal forum, the Richard ring. Also the northern mining elements - silver from Cobalt and nickel from Sudbury. But the children are interested in all the stories; they crowd around the Francophone, reaching out with shy hands to stroke the guitar gently, asking questions in rapid French, and eyeing Doug with interest, as he attempts to place them against the backdrop in his own broken French.

The festival director is Alain Vezina, and he runs the show seeming to subsist on nothing but on coffee and granola bars - but with the help of dozens of volunteers, many of whom are members of his family. His sisters, his son, his parents - all of them are present at the festival, dashing about in their FGMAT t-shirts helping artists, patrons, volunteers - Louise even manages to find time to source some freshly caught lake fish for us (we are on the shores of Lac Dufaut here) as well a basket of assorted local cheeses.

This is a photo of the board of the festival, with Alain in the centre holding the guitar, and Louise to the right of him.

Our assigned volunteer was formerly the principal of the town's sole English school. She knows everyone who walks in the door, and tells them all about the guitar with great enthusiasm. In spite of her claims to be computer illiterate, she soon masters our database, and helps people with the registration.

The Photographer takes advantage of a lull in portrait sessions to connect with the family back home. How did we manage before the internet??

Aside from the cheese and my ever-increasing cretons addiction, there is not much of note on the menu in Rouyn - though we did have one spectacular breakfast at the St Honoré Boulangerie, whicih had the most gorgeous selection of breads and pastries, and where the Photographer and I each bought a very exciting-looking Tarte d'Alsace to take home with us.

On our way out of town on Sunday, we stopped at the mine (the economic centre of town) to take a few photos.

Life in a northern town.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


We'd been attempting to find a meeting date with the folks at the head office of a major Canadian airline (which shall remain nameless until they actually GIVE us the sponsorship deal we really need, at which point I shall promote them faithfully in every post), and finally managed to set one up for the afternoon of Friday May 23. We'd also been trying to find a way to spend some time with our very good and much-missed friends the Runner and the Best Friend, who live in Ottawa with their wee one, Peter Parker (PP for short), so we decided to spend Friday night in Montreal, drive to Ottawa on Saturday to spend the night with them, and then drive back home Sunday afternoon in time to have dinner with my Man's mother. I've never visited Montreal and have spent very little time in Ottawa, so the weekend promised to be full of interest and adventure - and it was!

Our meeting was at 2pm and the airline's head office was out by the airport, so we rose at 5:30AM in order to be out of the house by 7:00AM. Traffic was light that early in the day, and we were soon cruising sunnily eastward along the 401. We reached Montreal by noon, and navigated the maze of expressways with the aid of a GoogleMap, reaching our destination by 12:30PM. The traffic in Montreal was heavy, and it was too risky for my Man to try to drop me off at the hotel before the meeting - we needed to find somewhere nearby we could have a snack and a coffee while we waited for 2PM to roll around. We followed the directions of the receptionist in the lobby, who told us there were a couple of restaurants a five-minute drive back the way we'd come.

Unfortunately, these instructions were too simple for us. In four minutes were back in that same maze of expressways, completely disoriented and with no restaurants in sight. We did, however, see an IKEA! Spurred by the thought of fifty-cent hot dogs, we hit the off-ramp and navigated the warren of back-streets to the IKEA parking lot. I don't know what it is about the IKEA hot dogs...perhaps it's the Swedish mustard...they are so good!

Thus fortified, we managed to find our way back to our starting point with very little foul language and only two panic attacks, and my Man headed in for his meeting while I napped in the parked car. The sun was warm, our rental car had a sun roof - and I'd been up since the crack of dawn. An hour and a half went by swiftly.

By 3:30PM my Man was out of his meeting and back in the car. The meeting was profitable - though not quite as profitable as we had hoped it would be - and he'd been promised a message outlining the actual support he would be offered the following week. Nothing to do but wait and see. It was a sunny afternoon and we were in Montreal - time to forget about work and have some fun!

A few months back, our friend the Francophone had invited us for dinner, and had shown us a beautiful cookbook from a Montreal restaurant called Au Pied de Cochon. As the title indicates, the focus of the book is MEAT, particularly pork - with an equal emphasis on foie gras. We ordered a copy of the book for ourselves, and have been dreaming about eating there for months. Two weeks before our visit, my Man phoned for a reservation, and managed to get the last available table for the Friday we'd be in town - at 5:30PM.

Searching for a place to stay online, I looked for a small hotel that would be walking distance from the restaurant, and through stumbled upon the Kutuma. It was a small boutique hotel, three stories tall, next door to an Ethiopian restaurant called The Blue Nile, and run by the same owners. It is cosy and charming and the staff took wonderful care of us, upgrading our room to a junior suite with a kitchenette, helping us up the stairs with our bags, and showing us how to work the remarkably complicated shower.

Being in the room was like being on safari. There was leopard-print carpeting on the floors, leopard-print sheets on the bed, as well as a furry leopard-print throw....zebra-printed cushions on the sofa...leopard-printed plates in the cupboard. It was all slightly kitsch and very comfortable - and the king-sized bed was heavenly.

We only had a few minutes to unpack and have a quick wash before it was time to walk to the restaurant. After a couple of wrong turns down some very pretty side streets we managed to orient ourselves - though we had to duck into a couple of doorways along the way, due to sudden and inexplicable rain showers falling from the almost cloudless sky.

This particular part of Montreal is so pretty - two or three-storey walk-ups line the well-treed streets, and people sit on theirs stoops chatting and reading and's like Paris crossed with SoHo.

The restaurant was everything we had hoped it would be. Though it was only 5:30PM, it was already filling up with a clientele that ranged from thirtysomething trendies to twentysomething punks to sixtysomething retired folk. The place had a casual, comfortable vibe, menus in two languages, incredibly knowledgeable (and gorgeous) wait staff - and delicious martinis.

What can I say about our meal? My only criticism is that the portions were too generous.

We started with the Assiette de cochonnailles: a plate of three different kinds of pate - cretons, pâté de campagne, and rillettes, along with some of the chef's home-made ketchup and an exquisite little square of jellied braising liquid.

This was followed by our vegetable course: a tomato tartlet and a delicious apple, endive, blue cheese and walnut salad.

For our main, we shared the bison tartare and the tarte boudin.

The tartare was perfection - salty with capers and mustard and crunchy with finely chopped onion. It came with the restaurant's special french fries, cooked in duck fat - but we were so full by this point we couldn't really do them justice.

Boudin is a kind of blood sausage, and it came on a bed of flaky pastry, lined with thinly sliced potatoes, finished with foie gras. Completely decadent - a heart attack on a plate. We ate only a third of it between us.

We couldn't leave without sampling a dessert. Our waiter recommended the pouding chômeur, a sponge-toffee concoction with a lovely texture that was slightly chewy and yet somehow melty all at the same time.

After dinner, we rolled ourselves out to the street and staggered up and down Rue St Denis for a couple of hours, watching the city come to life in the May dusk. The light was lovely and golden, and the streets were still wet with rain, gleaming as the sun set.

We'd hoped to find a place to have one last drink, to sit and do a little people-watching before turning in, but eventually we found ourselves back at the hotel - where the adjacent restaurant was packed with chattering Montrealers consuming injera and kitfo at an astonishing rate.

By 10:00PM, our early morning and enormous dinner had combined to create a sort of paralysis.

We slept.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

St John's - Postscript

Back to work for both of us today. It feels a bit odd to return to our routine. How can I sit at a desk all day when there are stormy, rocky cliffs and lonely, lovely seaside vistas to be contemplated to the accompaniment of bird calls and the sound of the wind - all just a short flight away?

We walk to work this morning in an attempt to counteract the culture shock. We take the lake route.

It's all very calm and serene....there are joggers and cyclists, and we say good morning to everyone, like good little Newfoundlanders. The sun is warm and the lake is serenely blue, and the seabirds who winter on our lake have not yet flown north. They bob and dive shyly, and when we peer into the water, we see them swimming below the surface.

And there are swans, swimming hopefully up and eyeing us beadily with a view to breadcrumbs. may not be wild and mysterious and atmospheric and full of ferociously gregarious Newfoundlanders - but it's home and I did miss it.

For dinner tonight we ate the Potter's moose sausages. They were divine.

So that's it for now! The summer is coming, and with it some road trips and adventures, we hope.

Thanks for sharing this journey with us, gentle readers.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

St John's - Heading Home

My man and Karen - breakfast-maker extraordinaire.

So today we say goodbye to new friends and fly home to old ones.

I'm not sad to leave the weather (there is hail this morning), but I wish we'd had more time to explore the island. And to see more live local music. And to visit the antique shops - I didn't make it into a single one! And to have lunch at the little Afghani place on Duckworth...and buy fish from the Fish Depot...and to get to Belbin's...and - well, I think I may have to get back to St John's sometime very soon!

We had a couple of errands to run before we left town - a visit to the Newfoundland Weavery to buy one of their fabulous larch cutting boards, and a stop at the Craft Council for a few gifty things to bring home.

The Potter kindly offered to drive us to the airport; she picked us up at 10:30am sharp, bearing a parting gift of frozen moose sausage made by some friends who hunt, securely wrapped in layers of plastic and tin foil. We stashed it deep in our luggage, hoping it wouldn't defrost too quickly.

The Professor stopped by for a quick goodbye, and after hugs all round we were off. Half an hour later, we were hugging the Potter goodbye and heading into the airport.

Our flight home had a high ratio of children to adults aboard, which worried us a bit - especially when we found ourselves sitting across the aisle from a rosy-cheeked and smiling cherub of about six months of age, whose two year-old brother was roaring lustily in his seat, in protest against some (I'm sure entirely valid) injustice. They soon quieted down, however, and my Man spent a large portion of the flight picking up toys that were dropped in the aisle and turning picture book pages, much to the delight of the cherub.

The highlight of our flight was consuming our leftover steak and cheesy bread from our meal at Christopher's the previous evening. No airline traveller ever had it so good.

Our flight landed in Toronto at a quarter past three, and by four-thirty we were strolling down Roncesvalles in the sunshine, without our scarves, hats, gloves or boots.

It's good to be home.

St John's - Last Night

I can safely say that there is one thing I won't miss about St John's and that is the mercurial weather. Changeable doesn't begin to cover it.

Tonight it was WINDY. The kind of windy that pushes you sideways, like it's in a bigger hurry than you are. We bundle up and head out.

Earlier in the week, we'd noticed a sign outside of the local Mexicali Rosa's indicating 2 for 1 margaritas on Mondays. This was our first stop. Mmmm. Just as good as Hernando's back home, once we convinced them to rim the glasses with coarse instead of table salt.

A couple of stools away, a little further down the bar, were a couple of guys who were also enjoying the 2 for 1 margaritas - two at a time! They had two rounds of two each while we were there, followed by a Corona each. When we left, they were attempting drunken come-ons to the trio of very pert, very young, very pretty bartenders.

We'd been craving steak, so we went to Christopher's for our last meal in St John's. It was a good choice! Christopher's is run by two friends - one is the chef, the other is the maitre d'. The maitre d' also provides table service - Christopher's is small enough not to warrant any other staff - and he was sweetly attentive, clearly proud of his restaurant and his food.

After a starter of scallops for my Man and a Gazpacho salad for me, we each ordered the 6oz "Sissy" cut steak - cooked rare. It came to the table on a bed of beautifully nutty linguine, tossed in olive oil with perfectly cooked fresh vegetables, and dressed with the chef's special wild game demi-glace. Perfection.

We couldn't finish the steaks, they were so enormous, so we asked if we could have our leftovers wrapped up, along with some of their special cheesy bread. These makeshift sandwiches are sitting in my carry-on bag right now, ready to be consumed once we're in the air.

After dinner we met the Actress at the bar in the Fairmont Newfoundland, which is just across the street from our B&B. The decor in Fairmont bars, in my limited experience, seems to be always violently outdated, and this one was no exception. Nothing matched or was coordinated; the carpet, the chairs, the upholstery, the tables, the bar all looked like all they had been purchased and installed at different stages in the hotel's history, each at least a decade apart. Which can work if everything is comfortable, well-made and well-designed, but can be disastrous if not. The Fairmont Newfoundland has none of St John's charm, romance or humour- it's a faceless, anonymous nonentity that could be in any city in any part of the world. Disappointing.

It was our last night in St John's, though, so after a nice communal rant about the decor we focused on more interesting subjects and enjoyed a couple of drinks before it was time for my Man and I to turn in. The Actress had a rehearsal the next day, so she wasn't up for a late night either.

We'd considered a little "pre-packing" that night, but between the margaritas, the wine at dinner, and the wine at the Fairmont...well, lying down became really the only option.

The bar at the Fairmont.

St John's - Last Day!

It suddenly occurred to me that I've written nothing about breakfasts! The second B in B&B has been an important part of our stay - mostly because of Karen. I'm not going to give her an alias, because if you come to stay here at The Roses, you will meet her and love her as we do.

She is also a darn fine cook. We've eaten her French toast, her pancakes with partridgeberries, her omelettes, and her delightful grilled-cheese-with-fried-egg-on-top (our personal favourite).

Yesterday morning over breakfast, we were discussing the merits of the various fish and chip shops in town. My man expressed a partiality for Ches's. Karen said she preferred Leo's (the fish pieces are thicker). Her mother always liked Kavanagh's. I absorbed this information in silence, but did a little googling when I was back in our room to see where all these places were located.

My man had a school visit today, at a private school called St Bonaventure's. He spoke to a group of Grade 4 students, and afterward Sherry Ryan and Andrea Munro played the guitar for them.

He was due home after twelve-thirty, so I embarked on my quest for fish and chips around eleven-thirty. It was a fair hike up to the area where both Leo's and Ches's were located. I had hoped to try Leo's, since neither of us had had it before, but sadly I had forgotten to go to the bank machine, and Leo's only takes cash. Such a shame - it was very greasy spoonish, with one of those traditional menu boards where you stick the little plastic letters into white grooved backlit plastic. The food they were serving looked very good, particularly the plates featuring mountains of fries smothered in dark gravy. Also, I had read online that they fry in lard, which does make for a very crispy finish.

Ches's was an altogether more polished establishment. Very clean and white and orderly, with printed menus and two dining areas. I ordered a two-piece meal and a side of onion rings, as well as a small coleslaw. Stocked up on their special malt vinegar and some tartar sauce from the condiment stand. My meal came in a large brown bag, the warmth of which I could feel right through my coat as I carried it home.

When I unlocked the door of our room, my Man was back. He looked at my brown bag inquiringly...and then a gleam appeared in his eyes. "Is that...?" His eyebrows shot up.

I smiled.


After lunch, he headed back to the Professor's house to wrap up a few things, and I headed across the street to the Fairmont Newfoundland for a little indulgence at their spa. Waiting for my session to begin, I observed two gentlemen being shown in for their pedicures. Big burly men, with large bellies, boots, and bomber jackets - manly men, who looked like they'd come off one of the tankers. As I was shown into my own treatment room, the two girls assigned to take care of them were helping them into their pedicure chairs and providing them with soothing neck wraps....

Monday, April 14, 2008

St John's - Eighth Night

You would not believe how hard it is to find an open pharmacy in St John's on a Sunday!

First we tried the Water Street Pharmacy.


The pleasant young man doing a crossword at the counter of the menswear shop next door told us that there was another pharmacy on Long's Hill.

We hoof it up to Long's Hill.


Long's Hill is halfway to the big Sobey's, where I'm sure the pharmacy is open, so we hike up there (this is all uphill from Water Street, I should mention - and in St John's, hills are HILLS).

Success!! The Sobey's pharmacy is open!

We have our prescription filled, and pick up a few necessities. My man forgot his razor, so has become a bit grizzly over the week. He has a school visit with the guitar tomorrow, so we figured a shave was probably a good idea. Don't want to scare the children.

In our wanderings, we pass a little restaurant called Nautical Nellie's, with a sandwich board outside promising $3.50 Caesars. We look at each other. Twelve seconds later, we're seated at the bar. The Caesars are delicious! So is the Codaroni we order to share. (Think mac and cheese, but with delicious morsels of cod.) An hour later we leave Nellie's, revitalized.

We have a show at the Ship in tonight - a local landmark, and musical hub of the city. My Man is going to give a talk and a Power Point presentation to start things off, and then a great group of local musicians will play the guitar. The staff at the local Craft Council have kindly arranged to lend us their multi-media projector, so we pop in to their office on the way home to pick it up.

It's huge!! When we get it back to the B&B and hook it up it doesn't want to work with our laptop. I try to download the manual online - and discover the projector is twelve years old!

Sadly, we never are able to get it to work, so there will be no multi-media presentation for the good folks at the Ship.

We arrive at the Ship around 7:30pm and meet the bartender, Tim. There's some gear on stage, but they don't have a house tech, so my Man and I set up two vocal mics, an instrument mic, and a DI box, plug it all into the PA system and power it up. Amazingly, it works! (I knew that theatre tech degree would come in handy.)
People start trickling in. The Potter and her cousin. Our friend, the Actress, whom my Man and the Photographer met here one boozy night at the folk festival last August, when she was attempting intimacy with a giant inflatable beer can. The Professor - but not the Musician, who had choir practice. The musicians who will play tonight: Dan Rubin, Amelia Curran, Tom Power, Jeik Loksa, Sandy Morris, Jenny Gear, Peter Narvaez, Jill Porter, Sherry Ryan, Joanne Wareham and Duane Andrews.

I've heard my Man speak about the guitar many, many times, but this evening he was in particularly fine form - he was eloquent, passionate, and sincere - he moved us all to tears. The projector was not missed!

And then there was the music. The room was busy for a Sunday night, and yet you could have heard a pin drop. Absolutely wonderful music from a great community of artists. A very memorable event.

The Potter and I.