Wow, what a three weeks it's been!  I told you that I was taking a blogging break but didn't mention that I was going on an adventure (I don't like to broadcast if we're going away). 

I was given the opportunity to attend the North American Brass Band Summer School in Halifax, Nova Scotia by the conductor of my brass band, who is also a director of the course. It all happened very last minute, a real whirlwind in fact - G came too, which was really nice. What an adventure it was, I was very nervous about going because of the calibre of tutors and players but it couldn't have been a more wonderful experience - I've met some amazing people from all over the world.

So, this is going to be a long post today (I've ok'd it with Julia, lol!) Brace yourselves.

But first, some crafting! My nephew and his wife had their first child while I was away so I quickly made this card when we got back and put it in the post with the blanket I'd made a while back and some Canadian paraphernalia. You gotta buy a moose for a new family member huh?

I did think of you all whilst I was in Halifax though and couldn't resist taking this shot of a very nice yarn store....

I didn't buy any though, got too much stash to work through as it is!!

Ok, travelogue time! I'm ashamed to say I knew very little about Halifax before we went but was bowled over by this friendly and historic city. The people were so lovely, we chatted to folk wherever we went.

The town Clock was a real feature, one of the oldest structures in the city. The hill behind is the Citadel, a British fort built in the 18th C and still guarded by Highland soldiers.

We spent a lot of time down by the waterfront too - the harbour at Halifax is the second largest in the world after Sydney and remains ice free through the year so it's used by a lot of shipping, commercial, military and pleasure. The boardwalk ran for a few miles and was great to people watch.

There was a lot of public art - this giant wave was surrounded by rubber matting so kids could play freely...

Loved these 'melted' lampposts too!

But I found this the most poignant of all - a memorial to the Canadian soldiers who boarded ships to go to war and who never came back. The footprints on the deck were their last on Canadian soil.

There were loads of boats in the harbour - this was originally a Swedish vessel built in 1906, G and I went for a trip on her, it was great fun.

The Harbour Hopper was always buzzing around town - it's an amphibious bus, so you got a town tour then it drove down a ramp into the harbour. Of course we had to have a go!!

But the real reason for going was to play music. There were 40 delegates and 10 tutors, who were all international players and/or professors of music. And little old me who's only been playing for 11 years. My knees were knocking. But everyone couldn't have been friendlier - we rehearsed in St Matthew's Church, where we had whole band practise, sectional rehearsals and masterclasses. It was hard work but my goodness I learned a lot.

We played at a few concerts, this was in Grand Parade in front of the memorial and oldest building in town.

The bass section!

The trombones, doing what they do best - hamming it up in 'I Will Follow Him' from Sister Act. Second from right is Brett Baker of Black Dyke Band, what a player he is.

The cornet section doing Trumpet Blues & Cantabile - the tall guy in the middle is Tom Hutchinson, Principal cornet of Cory Band, No 1 in the world and my favourite brass band ever. I did have a bit of a giggly fan-girl moment when I met him for the first time but what a funny, down to earth chap he is!

Me and the gorgeous Dr Scott Watson, Professor of Tuba and Euphonium at the university in Kansas. He is one laid back dude, a fantastic and thoughtful teacher and who shares a secret love of 70's disco music with me :-D 

The band also played in the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo - they're in the red jackets in the distance. Unfortunately, I'd hurt my ankle so couldn't play in this part but was ok - G and I went to the dress rehearsal which was amazing. If anyone in Scotland is wondering where all the bagpipers have gone, they're all in Halifax!!

We also gave a formal concert in St Matthew's, our rehearsal venue - our Musical Director was Dr Robert Childs, who is Brass Band royalty in the UK. You can just see me in the back - I think I was the first female tuba player they've ever had.

There I am!

The organisers had clocked that G was a good photographer and asked us to find a venue for a formal group shot - we found the perfect spot in a cemetery opposite St Matthew's where there was a monument with steps!

Great shot Gordon!

As I couldn't play in the tattoo, I had a little more time to hobble around Halifax. So here's some more pics to give you a flavour of this lovely place.

We loved the weather board houses, there were loads of them even in downtown. The cafe on the corner did a mean Wildberry smoothie which was gorgeous in the very hot weather,

and good coffee too!

More public art, this time on the side of a Freaky Candy store - their proper title not my opinion, lol!

We enjoyed the food, eating a lot of lobster, scallops and this..chicken souvlaki and greek salad at Freemans (highly recommended bar!) not to mention working our way through a few Canadian craft beers! Talking of which:

We went to a sports bar one evening, it was an experience! G took the next pic cos it tickled him!

Presumably you pick which screen you want to watch while you do what you have to do!!

But it was the waterfront that we kept returning to:

A temporary pontoon bridge had been built while the construction of a new bit of harbour was taking place, it was really weird walking on it, as if you'd had one beer too many!

We loved the Adirondack chairs that were everywhere in town....

We stood and watched the start of an ocean going yacht race....

Loved the flags that were everywhere....

...and marvelled at the skill that the yachts people have - how do they know what ALL those ropes do??!

There were beautiful scenes to gaze at around every corner....

and shots that just took our fancy!

One of the best experiences was playing with the Band on Halifax Commons for the Canada Day celebrations - it was genuinely wonderful to see people so proud of their country. I have to say that people we talked to were astounded that the UK doesn't have a National Day. I think we are poorer as a nation for that. There were lots of flags sported by everyone:

in all sorts of ways.....

on the main bridge across the harbour...

and even by the Sky Hawks parachute display team!  They were amazing to watch but my favourite bit was this:

Such a simple idea but what a brilliant effect. Great shot G - bet you're glad you took the long lens now :-D

But we were chickens and didn't try out the local speciality:
Google it if you don't know what it is!! 

If you'd like to hear a couple of tracks from the concert then listen here ( Sing Sing Sing -start at 1.15 to avoid the talking) and here (I will follow him)  and here (Shenandoah) - these recordings were done by someone else so the quality's not great but you get the idea.

So we got back ok and have been taking our time to recover as it was a VERY full on two weeks. But oh, what memories of the place, friendships, music that filled my heart with pure joy and the loveliest of countries.

Thanks Canada - we'll be back..... xxxx


Helen said...

Wow Jan!! what an honour to go and play - and what an amazing experience! I have seen bits of Canada, but not Halifax - I like very much! too many wonderful photos to comment on, but I love the melted lamppost! Glad you had such a good time, and I hope your ankle is ok now. Welcome Home!! Helen #??

Tracey@Hotchpotchcreations said...

What an amazing opportunity Jan, who could have ever turned this down. I'm so glad you enjoyed every moment, I have relatives who live in Canada at opposite ends to where you visited and it actually feels like they live around the corner with their constant updates on everything family.
It's a beautiful place and i'm so glad you have taken more away from it that you originally planned. You look fab in the band!!
Enjoy those memories, put your feet up and I hope you get to return. Thank you for sharing it all with us @ WOYWW.
Creative Hugs Tracey #2

Annie said...

Oh wow. I’m exhausted just reading it all. What an amazing experience for you both. You seem to have made a lifetime of memories in just 2 weeks. I love your photos and I’m really glad the boss let you share them all with us.
Annie x #15

glitterandglue said...

Morning Jan. Welcome home! What a stunning experience - your band leader must think a lot of your playing, and that's really wonderful. Well done. Well done to G as well - the photos are just great and give a real sense and flavour! As with Helen, I liked the melted lamp posts - was laughing as I saw those - but I really loved the wave slide!! Kids just being kids - a wonderful opportunity for them.
So glad you had such a memorable time. WOW!!!
Take care, girl. Come back down to earth. God bless.
Margaret #7

Sarah Brennan said...

Wow Jan, what a fabulous experience. My brother used to live in Halifax, but I never got round to visiting him while he was there although my parents and sisters did. Did you see the cannon that was thrown inland by the Halifax disaster (the explosion of an ammunition ship in the harbour during WWI)? Many of the victims of the Titanic are buried in Halifax too. So glad you shared all those photos as they brought back lots of memories. Have a great week. Sarah #14

Diana Taylor said...

What a fabulous opportunity for you Jan, I am so glad you had such a wonderful time and it says a lot to be chosen for such a special event - what a clever gal you are. I have really enjoyed mooching through Halifax with you and love the lamp posts and the little clapboard houses, and everything actually - it looks a beautiful place to visit.
Have a good week and hope the jet lag's gone,
Diana xx

Twiglet said...

Fantastic photos Jan - well done G. Halifax looks a wonderful place - what an adventure for you both. Thanks for sharing. xx Jo

Sylvia/LittleTreasures said...

First off your card is just adorable. Thank You for sharing all the lovely photos. I feel the need to visit. WOW some gorgeous fun. So happy you both were able to enjoy such an adventure. Bet the music was awesome ! We are just a dot in the vast world .... and now back to reality. Enjoy a great week.

Ellie said...

Wow! That looked like an incredible week away! Such gorgeous scenery and the waterfront. Wow to the concerts, I'm sure the sounds filled your whole body. Have a good relax at home now.
Ellie #22

Felix the Crafty Cat said...

What a great trip and sharing all those lovely photos, brilliant. Looks like an interesting place to visit. Have a great week and a happy woyww, Angela x13x PS pleased you liked my pebbles too xXx

shazsilverwolf said...

Hiya Jan, wow, it seems you had a fantastic time! Some really fab photos you've shared. Halifax looks just amazing.
Love the gorgeous card for the new baby too.
Lots of love & hugs, Shaz XxX

AliWade said...

Happy WOYWW and welcome back to Wales. What an amazing trip - and now I want to go to Halifax. I bet there is good cycling around there - will take a look and see if hubby would like a trip there one day. Congratulate G on his fab photos, as usual. He needs to go to the start of the Tour of Britain cycle race, as I would certainly like to see his photos. I'm glad you were able to grab this opportunity. Ali x #21 ps Hope your ankle is better

J said...

How amazing and what a great opportunity, it looks beautiful and clean, brilliant photos. They have those boats in Boston called the Duck tours where they go on land and the river.
Jan no25

Crafting Queen said...

What an amazing adventure! Looks like you had a blast.

Anne said...

Oh WOW Jan what an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Though not in same area I loved Canada and would love to go again. Anne x # 28

Anne said...

Oh WOW Jan what an amazing experience. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Though not in same area I loved Canada and would love to go again. Anne x # 28

Caro said...

Wow! What an amazing adventure, thanks so much for sharing the photos. My brother used to play tuba and I adore brass band music. It must have been quite an experience playing with such an amazing group of musicians. Thanks for sharing. Caro x (#17)

Elizabeth said...

Wow, Jan, what an experience. Your description of Halifax had got my itchy feet twitching. Hope your injured foot is on the mend. I have to say the shots of the sky divers are fabulous - thanks G. Have a great week. Hugs, Elizabeth x #29

Lindart said...

You DIDN"T try the poutine???? Oh my - you missed out on the best part - it is SO delicious! I love Halifax, we have family (buried) there, we have visited a few times now, you certainly had a lovely experience, especially to have been there July 1st! The lobster and seafood is the best, and my hubby likes to visit the citadel while we girls go shopping. Maybe next time you come to Canada it will be in Ontario somewhere and you can come to Kingston! Have a wonderful week, Lindart #33

StampinCarol said...

I googled poutine... sounds kinda interesting. I LOVE all your photos! Looks like you and Mr. G had a fabulous time! And I hope your ankle is on the mend! Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip!
Carol N #26

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I apologize for visiting so late. I’m having a terrible time with my internet. I’ve even called AT&T twice this morning.

I loved reading about your trip and I know you had a wonderful experience. You'll find many of us on this side of the big pond are nice and caring, just like the professor from the University of Kansas, my home state.

I think your photos are wonderful and your husband's photos are out of this world, too. LOVED the overall shot of the brass band. Welcome home. Be sure to take care of that ankle. Happy WOYWW from # 4.

Annie Claxton said...

Wow! Jan what an amazing collection of photos, you really had a wonderful time and you'll have so much to remember. Funny enough, I was googling Poutine only a couple of weeks ago as we were trying out a version of it in a recipe box - I would love to try the real thing, but maybe not every day :o) Have a great week Annie C #16

Julia Dunnit said...

What a great post! I love the look of everything,and like you, would have been constantly drawn to the waterfront. The music was lovely. I know you were a bit nervous about all the names and skill, but hey, youre too modest. Proud of you for seizing the opportunity, even if you did end up doing a bit of fan girly stuff..what the hell, everyone lies to have a fan! Lovely pictures, specially like the one of you both and the one of you and the Professor. I did not know that such appointments existed!

Heather Marshall said...

Hi Jan. Fantastic post! I love my trips to Canada. I haven't been to Nova Scotia - Maybe one day. G' s photos are amazing! As you say, there are so many photo opportunities, and yes, the Canadians love Canada Day! We decorated our house when my sister was in the UK one year. She loved it. I too was introduced to poutine- very tasty! Breakfast is always a fun experience - starwberries and bacon on yhe same plate as brioche! I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. Have a lovely week Heather x #12

Jan Ltc said...

Thanks so much for your lovely words and TFS what a fab post. Love the loo idea!! xx Jan (27)

Sharon Madson said...

Fabulous photos! We have been to Halifax and love it, but strange enough , very different photos! What I didn’t know before we went is the whole Titanic connection. This really was a n interest to me. And we went to the mariner museum and it was so interesting! What a great music time you experienced, too! Glad you had a great adventure! Thanks for the visit earlier! #30

Hazel said...

Wow! what an amazing type and super photos. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a good day - Hazel, WOYWW 17 x

Marit said...

What a fabulous trip! I loved seeing all the photos, the melted lanterns are the best and the streetart on that wall... yowzah! It must have been a lovely experience to walk through that city and play music with all those people/celebraties (that I don't know about, but I'm not into brass bands...) Now that you're back home: enjoy the photos and good memories! Love from Holland, Marit #19

Kelly said...

What a fabulous trip and wonderful memory for the two of you! Thank you so much for sharing your dear Mr. G's talent with us. I love poutine but prefer my gravy on the side for dipping - especially the fries. yum! Loved the art. The melted lanterns could be a real thing here in the states, I swear! Halifax reminds me a lot of pictures I've seen of the Eastern sea board.

I don't like to announce when we're going to be away either. Too many people watching. Grrr.
Creative Blessings! Kelly #31

Dorlene Durham said...

WOW! Great photos! Such a beautiful place. My favorites are of the lamp posts and the tvs above the toilets. LOL I love the baby card too. Dorlene #34

Zsuzsa Karoly-Smith said...

Amazing photos Jan and by the looks of it, it hasn't been as unbearably hot as over here. When you said you're taking a break from blogging/WOYWW I thought you've had enough of it and needed a break - I didn't know you were away! Lovely to have you back - just a pity you made your return the week I couldn't take part, but I hope to see you again next week! xx

Neet said...

Loved listening to the band. Just listened to 'Shendoah' which I think is quite a moving piece but I love 'I Will Follow Him' and the first one I had a sing along to. Thanks for the links. So proud of you.
What a wonderful set of photos and I am not surprised everyone talked to you - you have such a warm and welcoming smile how could anyone fail to be attracted to you. (and I am not BS'ing either)
I did think of you and wonder how you were getting on, quite an honour being chosen to play amongst such prestigious people and just think you were the first female tuba player they had had - wow!
No wonder they recognised G's talent - he does some wonderful photos - love the mens urinals - what a larf!
Glad you are back and have had a great time, nothing like memories to keep one going.
Hugs, Neet 6 xxx

Shoshi said...

What a lovely post, Jan, so full of interest and gorgeous photos too. You have had a wonderful trip! All I know about Halifax is its connection with the Titanic disaster. It looks such an interesting place, and what fun you must have had with the band! I love the melted lamp posts and the very poignant "Last Steps" memorial. I love the cute card for the baby boy with all the hearts - what an exuberant looking whale spouting all the hearts! Just delightful.

Thank you for your lovely comment and I'm sorry to be so late replying - been very busy these past few days and then exhausted! Story of my life at the moment it seems. So glad you enjoyed the Trolley Dollies photo! They are so tired when they come in from the garden. My friend was thrilled with the heart I made for her.

Kefir is extremely easy to make. If you haven't got a friend locally to give you some grains to get you started (you need these), you can get them from https://happykombucha.co.uk/collections/all-kefir-grains-and-kits They've also got lots of instructions and advice, and of course there's loads on Youtube. All you do is pour whole milk over the grains and let them do their stuff and convert the milk into kefir - no need to boil anything or keep it in a warm place like yoghurt. You may need to do a few batches before it turns out right - it depends how dormant the grains are when you get them. Have fun and let me know how you get on!

Happy belated WOYWW,
Shoshi #8


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