Monday, 12 October 2015

Maplewood Farm

Last weekend we spent Sunday morning (blue, warm, sunny!) with our friends the Stoker Family, who took us to the Maplewood Farm in North Vancouver. We got there at opening time, bang on 10am, and there was already a crowd forming! I had heard great things about Maplewood, and so I personally was very much looking forward to seeing it, and it really exceeded my expectations.

First in the gate, miniature ponies!

There were two ponies, a mellow one (pictured) and a really sad-looking one which wasn't so amenable to petting.

Next stop, Vietnamese pygmy pigs. These ladies were not pretty. They were black with wiry hair, very pot-bellied. They were snoozing in a pile under a red lamp (not flattering light), and in the enclosure there was a glass cabinet full of little bric-a-brac pig miniatures made of glass, plastic, ceramics, etc. Weird.

Pretty soon we encountered a flock of confident ducks. These ducks do not experience food insecurity. It was only 10:00am and they were being fed by the fistful by our young friend. She cottoned on super quickly that the ducks will come to the food, so every handful was thrown closer and closer until they were crowding greedily around her little pink-sneakered feet.

There were a couple of exotic parrots including a rainbow macaw. And a turkey. We got up pretty close to the turkey, enough to discover that it had a very alarming protuberance on the top of its beak. It was like... well, it was mesmerising. It had a kinetic life of its own, like a trunk. Since then I have seen multiple large photos of turkeys in shops and other places, and these bits of animated pink skin seem to be photo-shopped out. Mystery.

The highlight of the trip was so obviously the miniature goats. These things were petite, friendly, soft, and otherwise lovable in every way. We were allowed right in the enclosure, and we spent a good (excellent) 15 minutes playing with them.

In the picture above, one of the little goats was licking Matthew's shoe. It did this for some time. Goats like to taste all things, so my shoe-laces and shirt got well nibbled too.

The other charming thing is that the goats notice when one is receiving attention, then they all gather around. And of course they love to climb up high. Argh, they were delightful.

We saw a stoic peacock family unit (got a brief and sharp talking to from the mother figure when I got too close) and lots of New Zealand white rabbits. The rabbits shared an enclosure with a sweet little posse of guinea pigs with fascinating hairdo's. But we couldn't quite convince any of them to hold still enough for a pet. I guess if my hair was that fabulous I wouldn't want people to touch it either.

After all the animals were inspected we headed down the road to Lonsdale Quay for some brunch in the gorgeous midday sun. Because it was still fairly early in the day (and also because it is a bit sleepy) the Quay was not busy, so we had a beautiful view of Vancouver from the side patio. At this time of year, if there is a piece of patio to be had, you have it, because you never know when it will be the last sunshine for 7 months.

Thanksgiving Roundup 2015

I am writing to you from under a blanket, at the dining table, on a very wet Monday stat holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Matthew and I very bravely (foolishly) ran the Granville Island Turkey Trot this morning at 8:30am. I signed us up for it about two weeks ago, when I was staring out my office window during lunch and thinking "We should take advantage of the sunshine". So many mistakes in that last sentence.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and we spent it at the Grays' house in New Westminster. There were party games (including full contact Pictionary which our team won, and Cards Against Humanity which I conscientiously objected to playing). All the food was roasted. The culinary theme of the evening was "sneak some booze into it" because most dishes turned out to have bourbon, Grand Marnier, whiskey or other in them. ...So a good time had by all. It was excellent to catch up with the cousins, significant others of cousins, and friends of cousins. Owing to the presence of several dashing young lads, there was a pretty fair gender balance, which you know in the Gray Matriarchy is not usually the case.

The crowning glory of the evening was not one... not two... but three pies. Our friend Sue made apple pie, Aunty Lorraine made pumpkin pie, and I made pecan pie. It goes without saying that we ate all three. Although they were all delectable and worth it (by "it" I of course mean that feeling when you have just eaten three pieces of pie in one sitting), The Best Pie Award goes to Aunty Lorraine. Aunty Lorraine is nursing a broken leg and a sprained ankle (different limbs) and she not only made her pumpkin pie from scratch, but it took 3 hours to make, AND she is doing it all again today for another Thankgiving dinner she is attending. Two pies, two parties, two injured legs! Too heroic.

Matthew and I experienced a unique shared feeling this morning, which I am sure in some other language there is one succinct word for: "that feeling when you get up to run 10k in the freezing rain after having eaten 3 pieces of pie the night before". It was hard not to interpret that run as penance. We were so wet. But the good news was it was over and done in an hour, and we still had some cream at home (left over from pie making) to put in our scrambled eggs.

Warm thanks to Aunty Leslie and Uncle Dan for hosting such a festive family gathering, and to all the friends and relatives who shared their food and wine. Matthew and I are very lucky to have enjoyed our fifth Thanksgiving family dinner since we moved to Vancouver. We have a great deal to be thankful for.