Nine things I did for the first time in the first month of 2018

With so many exciting new things going on this month, I almost forgot that January blues are supposed to be a thing!

  1. Popped to the United States for lunch

When you only live half an hour from the US border, it’s only a matter of time before you decide to drive to Jackman, Maine for lunch. This was my first visit to the US and was certainly a memorable one given the beautiful drive and excellent company. I’m looking forward to venturing further into the States for our exciting Spring Break road trip!

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  1. Fished for trout on a frozen lake

In what ended up being perhaps the most Canadian day we have thus far experienced, a very kind teacher named Ruth invited us to spend the day with her family participating in the Sainte-Aurélie ice fishing tournament. While there were no prize-winners among the six trout we ended up catching, the breathtaking views around the lake and the incredible generosity of the family who let us have a go drilling holes into the ice before feeding us many varieties of Canadian meat pies made this a pretty victorious day in my opinion.

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  1. Starred in the Sainte Aurélie Top Gear special

This was the same day as the above but was so exciting it definitely merited its own paragraph! Ruth’s family happened to own three different snowmobiles (including an ATV worth 20,000$!) and let us take turns whizzing around the lake on them whilst we waited for the trout to take our bait. I can’t really articulate the incredible adrenaline/life rush that this created, so here are some photos and I’ll let your imagination do the rest!

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  1. Had an “ice day”

Whenever I tell a Québecois how many centimetres of snow it takes to close a British school, I am met with a derisive laugh and les Anglais, ils ne savent pas c’est quoi, l’hiver!. I was therefore not expecting to have any days off work due to weather conditions, but one night of verglas midway through January was apparently enough to close all of the schools in the region as it was too dangerous to even walk outside without an elevated likelihood of falling arse over tit. My memories of snow days at home are exciting ones of snowmen and sledges, and so I feel bad that it’s too dangerous here for children to play outside when they have the day off school, but I guess they’re certainly not short of other opportunities for wintry fun!

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  1. Welcomed an old face into my new place

Towards the end of January I received my first visitor! Alice, one of my best friends from university, did extremely well to survive the mixture of jet lag and temperatures well below freezing, and showing her around Montreal, Quebec and Beauce made me appreciate once more how lucky I am to be living here. Given that someone visiting me from the UK requires a lot of time, money and in Alice’s case time booked off work, I wanted to make sure she had the best possible time. Fortunately, she’s the sort of wonderful low-maintenance travel companion who seemed perfectly happy chilling with a cup of tea at my house after a few tourism-heavy days, which made for a smooth hostess operation and subsided any stresses I had previously had about logistics and unpredictable weather-related travel complications. Now that I’ve had the test run, I’m excited to welcome two very special guests at the end of March!

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  1. Seen a good friend’s artistic vision come to life, and eaten there 

As fortune would have it, I am now living within reach of the daughter of my responsable from the school in France at which I worked during my year abroad. Leah is a graphic designer living in the Plateau, perhaps the coolest district of Montréal I have experienced thus far, and I have stayed with her pretty much every time I’ve passed through the city. Before Christmas, she was keen to show me the designs she had been working on for her friend’s new vegan café, the Dugout Patisserie, which would be opening just before Alice and I would be staying with her. I’ve never been to an all-vegan café before and so was unsure what to expect, but we had a wonderful time enjoying doughnuts (filled with homemade Nutella) and matcha soy lattes and admiring Leah’s designs, especially having seen them as little more than ideas on a screen a few weeks prior. If you’re ever around the Plateau I would definitely recommend that you pop in and support Marie-Charlotte’s new business!

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  1. Enjoyed the ice and snow sculptures at the Carnaval de Québec

We didn’t see the infamous Bonhomme, but we did see these incredible works of chilly art:

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  1. Went tobogganing with an incredible view

Another reason to pop to Québec City during winter is to ride the toboggan in front of the Château! We were very lucky with the weather meaning we could fully appreciate the beautiful view, and I’m glad to have experienced this with Alice.

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  1. Learned to “ski”

When I say ski, I mean I just about mastered stopping and starting, and didn’t quite reach double figures with the number of times I fell over. As terrifying as it was to begin with, I was starting to get the hang of it by the end of my lesson and so am looking forward to returning to the Saint-Georges slopes with my best girl friends for some Galentines fun this evening!

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All in all, a very exciting start to 2018! I’m hoping this is a good sign for the rest of the year!

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