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West: Day 14 – Garrison Club & Burns Night

Last night, we met Derek Hay who will be our courier for the next leg of the tour, so this will be our last day with Ralph. 

Conjunctivitis has claimed another victim this morning. Ralph is arranging for a job lot of eye drops to be picked up from a pharmacy rather than having to rely on individually prescribed solutions on a case by case basis.

Ralph has been an integral part of the tour for some of us but particularly Alistair, who befriended him when Ralph toured Scotland in 2018. Cheers Ralph. You did a great job and we will look forward to catching up with you again as we approach the tour finale. There were some personal and group exchanges made throughout the day.

It’s snowing this morning. We’ve been in plenty of places where there has been snow on the ground but this is the first time there has actually been some snowfall. It’s due to get a lot colder over the next few days. Apparently there’s some sort of polar vortex on its way.

Breakfast and morning classes at the hotel at 9am and then we travelled to Garrison Curling Club for a double header. The Club is built on the grounds of what was originally a Canadian Army base – hence its name.

We were on the ice at 10 am and put in a solid performance to add another 14 shots to our total. Lunch consisted of sandwiches and an extremely tasty brisket barley soup. The afternoon definitely presented us with tougher opposition but we still managed to come out positive with another 11 shots added to make it a plus 25 day. It seems that Bruce’s rink has been identified for special attention. The Canadians are reading the diary blogs and following the scores !!

Malcolm gave a very articulate and personal vote of thanks at the end of the day. His uncle had actually emigrated from Scotland after WW2 and joined the Canadian Military. Malcolm also observed that there is a military training area nearby where the British Army still regularly trains.

Number ones tonight for Burns Supper but with the tartan tie. Tomorrow is a travel only day but we have a pretty gruelling few days coming up after that, so everyone will be taking it easy. We don’t want to lose our momentum.

The Burns night was enjoyable. James Gibb addressed the haggis and Alex Fleming delivered an excellent immortal memory. Bill Paterson (Strathcona Cup tourist, 2018) entertained us with several of his own amusing poems. 

However, the highlight of the evening for many was meeting Brendan Bottcher and Ben Hebert and grabbing photo opportunities with them both. They had heard about the Scottish tourists and had dropped in to say hello and thank us for making the effort to travel to Canada. That was pretty good of them. It turns out that Brendan was lined up to play against us at Le Duc in the sponsors team but couldn’t work it into his schedule. That would have been amazing. They promised that they would have had him at lead if he’d been able to play. Hmmm….

We were kind of rushed out of the club early as Doron, our driver, was up against his allowable hours, which was a shame but rules are rules. The evening ended at 10pm. Honest.

Stephen Mcclymont