Dear Canada, please make some more noise

It’s been exactly 7 days since our arrival in sunny Vancouver and I have to say, things have been as great as we expected. Even better in some ways (amazing weather) but less great in others (I have to live in a carrier bag most of the time in case the bed bugs get me!). Maybe it’s just adjusting to city living after suburban Surrey but MY GOD IT’S NOISY HERE. Kate and Chris managed to pick the noisiest road in the world to stay on – there’s an apartment block being built just across the street, they appear to be demolishing the building we’re staying in brick by brick, it’s a road that attracts a lot of beeping horns and – best of all – buskers on drumkits!! No I am not joking. The effort that must go in to transporting and setting up a drumkit for busking must be immense and, to be fair, unless you are Mick Fleetwood, drums on their own sound shit not very musical. Especially after a day of constant banging and booming – though I am starting to make little duck songs out of the blare of the pneumatic drill!

In other news, food here is beyond amazing almost without exception. Kate and Chris set themselves a target of $80 a day for food and any other activities – like roller blading round Stanley Park, me in the bicycle basket! – and we have all dined like kings for that. Hand pulled noodles, amazing burgers, yam fries, design your own pasta and frozen cocktails. Haven’t had any duck yet, but there’s still time! – by the time we get back, Heston Blumenthal is gonna be putting me in his new restaurant!

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I’ll help you carry on

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on

This is the song I have been singing to Kate all week as she has been getting overwhelmed with the sheer amount of things to sort out before our trip. I’ve done my best to calm her down, pack her up and move her out and we are now at a more peaceful place in our journey. Certain things we have learned:

1. Make lists, then make another one, and then make another and then put it on a calendar.
We all sat down (me, Kate, Chris and Ted) and contributed to a giant list. Chris being Chris, he tried to stop the creative flow at point 5 but we persevered and got to a more realistic 25 points! From that we made another list which linked related tasks and prioritised our items and THEN we drew out a calendar for the next three weeks and put the tasks in. This would have been a great idea until we saw that most of the tasks had to be done in the first 5 days! Cue Kate-faint number 1! We then colour coded responsibility for each item (I had important contributions like ‘be blue’ and ‘sit still doing nothing’) and we were off. I have to say, lying in bed sitting here at the other end of the mammoth week, it did work well.

2. It takes longer than you think to clean a 1 bed flat and we have been living in filth without realising
So far, the time tally is racking up on the cleaning front. Kate has spent the about equivalent of 2 days cleaning and scrubbing and bleaching. We have also realised that if you have to clean this much to move out, why weren’t we cleaning this much while we were actually living there?! I’m not going to highlight this fact anymore – I’m not a big one for cleaning as the bleach makes my wings wrinkly.

3. Looking forward doesn’t stop you looking back
I think it goes without saying that we’re all very excited about our trip. Especially now we’re packed and more on our way. However, I think we’ve also learned that no matter how excited we might be, it doesn’t stop the feeling of sadness that something special has come to an end. I know Kate feels like that about her job and it has tinged this part of our trip with a bit of sadness. However, lovely quote is helping us to move on –

You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present. ~Jan Glidewell

So we may keep glancing back, but eyes (and wings!) now turned to the present.

So, many useful things learnt over the last few weeks, which we will hopefully use over the next year with our strange lives. I’ll need a new skin at this rate! Get knitting granny!

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Not just for humans

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Mr Creosote comes to China Palace

The difference between ‘eat all you like’ and ‘all you can eat’ may only be one word but the meaning is so much deeper. Case in point, watching Chris work his way through a menu in a Chinese restaurant, ‘sampling’ (polishing off!) most of the menu. His mentality was different even to the above definitions – he was going for ‘eat as much as you can’ which, on witnessing it, I can say was a hugely disgusting task. As he threw another piece of crispy shredded beef into his waiting mouth and half chewed it, even the staff were beginning to notice his perseverance. The waitress tried to take it away before it was finished for his own good and almost had her arm bitten off too. He spooned in some special fried rice straight from the bowl, bypassing the plate, lazily dabbing at flecks of an unrecognisable sauce that had splattered his face Pollock style. He looked tortured as he finished off the special rice and turned to face the egg fried rice leftovers, upending the bowl into his plate with some style and effort. By now, he was eating with his fingers, face close to the plate so it was less effort to make the long journey to his half-open mouth. Hair covered in bits of rice, he finished off the last of the beef with a sigh of accomplishment, not satisfaction. It was more about the challenge than satiating any hunger, that had long passed. He proceeded to ask for a tap water three times and finished his long meal by chomping on the ice and massaging his swollen digestive system while moaning quietly.

But it’s ok because he didn’t have any crispy duck pancakes.

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Posh? Or just getting standards in my old age?

I always considered myself a bit of a working class Duck, as my whole purpose in life is to be a life-partner style companion to Kate. A Duck-in-Waiting, if you will. So, because of this, I thought I might feel a little out of place at Royal Ascot on Saturday when I had the opportunity to go. I got myself all dressed up, made sure there were enough skins layers to keep me warm, and set off.

I have to say, my initial impression was one of great excitement and anticipation. I was surrounded by beautifully turned out ladies and gentlemen, top hats and tails and everything! Bottles of champagne popped around my ears and I basked in this glimpse into the upper echelons of society, enjoying a window into their world. This.did.not.last.long!

We strolled through to the main part, where we were going to daintily sit around eating crumpets and drinking tea (or something like that), but when the man on the ticket gate took our raspberry liqueur off us because it was ‘spirits’ (come off it!), I had a sinking feeling – and I’m a Duck…sinking feelings tend to be bad! This was further compounded when we got in and were instantly engulfed by a huge crowd of mingling people (and a husband and wife having a tearful row) struggling to find a tiny patch of grass that we could call home for the following 4 racing hours. When we eventually found a tiny patch miles away from everywhere and still surrounded by people, we were able to place our bets in peace. This lasted all of 15 minutes when, out of nowhere, slices of bread flew through the air. Then half a French stick. Then a Ginsters pasty landed in the middle of our picnic food. Hmm. Our afternoon was punctuated by a variety of different baked goods landing on or near our picnic area, groups of inebriated fellows plumbing the depths of the English language and then followed up by witnessing a  fist fight on the way back to the car-park. The only conclusion I can draw from this experience is that working class or no working class, I may be too much of a snob to enjoy Royal Ascot. I think I need to go up in the world…how do you get tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show? I think that may be more my scene.

 

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Hey Duck…you want some lemonade?

Hey Duck…you want some lemonade?

An’ he waddled away,waddle, waddle…

 

This is my new favourite catchy song. Waddle waddle.

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Introducing a new duck to our herd…swarm…pack….

WHAT THE HELL IS A GROUP OF DUCKS CALLED?!

Hmmm! Apparently it depends on the type of duck. We have some fairly exotic ways of identifying ourselves in the plural form…badelynge, bunch, brace, flock, paddling, raft or team. It’s also possible to have a ‘dover’ of ducks…Yep, I’ve never heard of many of those either. Not sure about ‘team’ – it seems a bit sad, a bit ‘Gooo Team Duck’ – not really my scene. But if it depends on the type of duck, then therein lies the problem we face – the new addition to our ….family…. of ducks is a different breed to me! In all honesty, I don’t quite know what I am, but the new thing is yellow, big and wears a hat (see photo). We’re fairly different, all things considered, so our collective may have to wait until we identify our relationship to each other!

Our new addition is called Saffy (short for Saffron and rhymes with Daffy…as in Duck) ‘cos he’s yellow. Yes, another key bit of info there, he’s a boy too. I can already see that we’re going to be great friends, especially as he’s volunteered to go on a lot of the photo opps that I was worried about doing. And he’s lent his lovely new, green labels to me. They are of excellent quality and will suit me down to the ground.

Having just done a quick Wikipedia of different collective nouns, there are some excellent phrases. I think my favourite is a ‘rabble’ of butterflies – surely that couldn’t be further from the floaty truth? I also liked a ‘gulp’ of cormorants, or a ‘murder’ of crows. Now that one is appropriate….bloody hate crows. Another couple of gems – a ‘piteousness’ of doves (haha, stupid beautiful doves!), a ‘whoop’ of gorillas and a ‘bloat’ of hippopotamuses. A ‘smack’ of jellyfish and a ‘scream’ of swifts. After discussion with Saffy, we’re going to be serious contenders in the duck world….we are going to adopt the collective ‘mob’ (SO much better than a ‘knob’ of wildfowl…seriously!).

So…on that note….”Introducing a new duck, Saffy, to our mob”. I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot of you in the future!

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Not exactly a walk in the park…

Being a stuffed animal has its plus points – you don’t have to wash up, you don’t have to be the designated driver, and you don’t have to walk on the perilous shared foot- and cycle- paths of this fine country. No case finer in point than this weekend. A real highlight of my lovely weekend with Kate’s friends (let’s call them S and N!) was a midday stroll by the river. My natural habitat, I enjoyed the fresh air, the tranquillity, the company, the tinkle of a little cycle bell, a skidding sound and…. BANG….S got taken out from behind by an old woman on a bike. Whoa, Old Woman!

Despite profuse apologies from both sides, the old woman refused to accept the “I’m ok, it’s fine” answer and needed to torture herself with S’s gruesome injuries – she grabbed the hand with the ‘puncture’ wound and almost burst into tears, refusing to let go of it, stroking it – one step away from rubbing it on her face – like she could fix it through reiki. She offered her phone number, which was graciously refused (not sure if it was for litigation or future masochistic friendship potential), and as awkward as this was, it was also hilarious as she proceeded to tell S that she would be too shaken up to cycle home after all the trauma…..and then got back on her bike and cycled away at a steady pace….

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What do a duck and a bike have in common? They both have handle bars except for the duck

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Bit political for the dads – Duck gets serious

Well, finally, after 11 years of declining, Alistair Campbell deigned to grace the BBC 1 show HIGNFY with his godly presence. And better than that, it was one of the most political weeks for ‘Old Labour’ since they fell from power. And even better than that, Ian Hislop’s tiny face looked so delighted all the way through, I thought it would break in half horizontally. I couldn’t help but smile. And that takes a lot cos it loosens my stitching!

Hislop giggled his way through a constant onslaught of character assassination, innuendo and brute force abuse. It was hilarious for two reasons – one, because it was amusing to watch Humourless Alistair Campbell try desperately to play along, completely out of his depth. But, more importantly, it felt like a bit of sweet justice – Ian Hislop held Old Labour to account much more than any inquiry ever did. I guess that’s why Kate pays her licence fee – the BBC can still show, at times, an irreverence and satire that hits the spot for audiences. Sometimes we don’t want impartiality, we want a full-scale war. Not on Iraq though, as Hislop pointed out.
If I actually liked Campbell, I’m sure I would have disagreed with everything about it. But I’m also sure that complaints like that will be few and far between. And they’ll probably be from Liberal Demoncrats who don’t agree with the tone of the show on principle. Sometimes that’s what it takes to show people they’re not invincible.

The main downside about the Campbell Onslaught is that now Tony Blair will NEVER do it! #wastedopportunity

To lighten the heavy mood, I thought I’d share a classic track for you to disco to…enjoy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irgJPqkuakM
*8 and a half weeks*

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10 reasons why I’m better than RyanAir

1. I can stay in the air – confidently
2. I don’t charge you £50 to stow a tiny bag
3. I don’t try and sell you stuff every minute of the slightly terrifying flight
4. I take off on time
5. I don’t feel the need to play a cheesy jingle if I land safely, on time (I consider that my job)
6. I smile
7. I don’t try and take away the in-flight magazine 30 mins from landing
8. I don’t double my prices every 3 days
9. I don’t land by nose-diving from 30,000 feet
10. (the best one) I’m not owned by Michael O’Leary.
Obviously flying is a bit of a ducksmans holiday for me, but I feel that enables me to comment on the general unpleasantness of the experience. Roll on the luxury flight of Canadian Affair.  At least that’s not a budget airline…what?! It is?! Oh…
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