Ottawa

Mama Mia deary me ze secret service are all over ze ‘Otel this morning. We get into the lift to go up and zere iz zis serious looking tall man, earpiece in ‘is ear and ze blimmin lift goes down. Ze door opens, he looks out, gets back in and we go up. Then we hear zat ze Mexican President is staying at owa ‘Otel. We go outside to get into ze coach and the Polize are here in vast numbers. Now we on our way to Ottawa and we hear zat ze Mexican President iz following uz for heavens sakes! Not only zat but he is being joined by President Trudeau and President Obama – the three Amigos will be zere wiz uz. Magnifique! But ‘ow many blimmin secret service people vill be zere as well? I vill keep you posted on zis little matter.
We drove to Ottawa via Parc Omega which is a safari park in Notre Dame de Bonsecours just north of a place called Montebello and about 85 km from Ottawa. It is home to much wildlife including red deer, moose, black beers, raccoons, elk, coyote, red fox, bison, black bears, wild boar, caribou (reindeers), Arctic wolves and Arctic fox. We had a picnic lunch and then boarded a bus with no windows. The bus also had no suspension or creature comforts of any kind at all so we bumped around the 15 km ride with a driver who was from the back of beyond. BUT it was amazing to be up so close to the animals. We were given bags of carrots to feed some of them – they wandered right on up to the bus as if they were going to a Michellin star restaurant for lunch.

We also drove through a large lumbar region and many many big trucks on the freeway loaded with timber. We also passed large subdivisions. This is curious because in the various subdivisions all the houses are exactly the same design – no difference at all. Lego houses all in a row – quite attractive but all the same. However, much much cheaper to purchase than real estate in our fair city at home.  

Now while I think of it, I want to tell you about the Immigration Policy here in Canada. They take 25,000 refugees a year here and they only accept families. This, of course, is helpful for their integration into a whole new society because children go to school, etc etc and this helps the parents to integrate into a community. But if you want to Immigrate here the Government tells you where you must live and you must stay in that city for three years. If you attempt to shift from that nominated city, it’s “Au Revoir” home you go sunshine!  

Another Government policy is interesting. For every new commercial building that is built the developers have to spend 1% of the cost of the development on artwork which may be a piece of sculpture, a monumental fountain etc etc. This has introduced some magnificent pieces of artwork all over the country and the people obviously treasure and appreciate art. Now, strictly speaking, this is a Catholic country – just like France. There are churches everywhere just like in Europe. But, people are not attending church like they used to. That beautiful Notre Dame in Montreal has only approximately 100 parishioners going regularly to Mass each Sunday. So some of the churches are being converted into centres for art and culture, theatre etc.

Now if any of you have seen in the news over the past few weeks an enormous sinkhole appeared in the street in Ottawa – HUGE. It happened at a busy time of day. A bus full of people passed by just seconds before it happened. Unfortunately for a truck driver who parked illegally, his truck ended up in the sinkhole (he won’t park beside a NP sign again will he!) Anyway, you can Google it and see – it was enormous and it is about 100 m from owa ‘Otel. Heaven forbid – it was a burst water main that caused this catastrophe and I still have to learn how to get ze Showa going tonight – it doesn’t bear thinking about does it!

Ottawa is a beautiful city with the Riedel Canal in its centre. However, the three Amigos are here – Police EVERYWHERE – road barriers EVERYWHERE – Secret Service EVERYWHERE – even on the river in boats. This morning we had to bring forward our departure to Toronto because of road closures happening etc etc. 

Now – ze bathroom! So after the flood of ze bathroom in Quebec this one is totally different (of course – zey know ze Kiwis are coming zo zey set ze challenge don’t they – I am totally convinced of zis!) Anyway, I get into the Showa and I see, to my relief there is a hand held Showa so I take it off the attachment and hold onto it and go to turn it on. Zis should be easy thinks I. But there are three levers – maybe it’s for hot, cold and warm. Turn ze first handle – nothing ‘appens. Turn ze second and voila – we have water but cold. Turn ze third – no change. Eventually we have hot water – yay!!! In I get and I am holding the hand held thingy and everything is going well until I drop ze soap and bend down to pick it up and I haven’t noticed but there is a dinner plate thingy above me with water pouring out of it too and it gets me straight in ze face. I drop ze hand held thingy and it lands upside down and now I am getting water coming up at me. Heaven forbid, it is like being in the garden and the blimmin sprinkler is on – top and bottom are now getting water from all directions and I still don’t have ze soap. You know what I am saying don’t you!!

So our last night in Ottawa is spent with Betty and Reg – lovely Canadian friends of our neighbours Anne and Michael and we met them when they stayed in Auckland. They have travelled an hour to come into town and meet us for dinner and a lovely evening we had sitting under the trees at an Italian restaurant enjoying good company. They took us to another little shack to have Beaver Tails for dessert – not what you are thinking. Beaver Tails are like long thin donuts and you can have any topping you want – we had sugar and cinnamon and delicious they were. So that lovely evening ended our visit to this really nice city. We say farewell and onto Toronto we go.

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