Skating under blue skies

Skating at Beaver Lake today
If you're looking for picture postcard winter you don't have to go far in Montreal. We went up to Beaver Lake in Park Mount Royal on Christmas morning and skated as the snow fell. As if this wasn't romantic enough a horse drawn carriage appeared in the woods and as it moved closer we could hear a bell around the horse's neck ringing out to his sprightly pace. I felt as if Bob Cratchit was going to appear carrying Tiny Tim at any moment.

Off for a ski on the mountain
I say romantic but any ice-time with my Canadian husband involves the inevitable attempt to teach the clueless Brit how to skate properly. Statements like, I'm not going to say this again but bend your knees, ring out like Yuletide carols. Although my skating abilities would put me in Olympic categories among my friends back home, here I am regarded with pity. So it was we practised my techniques and just when I thought I'd mastered the crossing one foot over the other to turn a corner, he pointed out I was going in the opposite direction to my feet. My stopping technique does not involve a swishing movement of the foot but a full collision with a well-placed barrier.
One of Montreal's many winter wonderland locations
 Beaver Lake has a refrigerated rink which has been open for a few weeks now and you can rent skates and skis here. Of course we are all hoping the lake itself will be frozen soon but I'm told it takes a couple of weeks of really cold temperatures. It's only -1C as I write this but it was -15C a couple of days ago when we went for a run (why?)

In their element.
On our return trip today we saw children slumped in sleds, who look the worse for wear after an overindulgent Christmas, dogs in cute red coats and then there were these beauties (above) who must have been feeling like they'd come home - given the recent snow fall.
Hurry up Mr Zamboni man
There were people tobogganing, snowshoers, lots of cross-country skiers as well as dozens of skaters (some worse than me). The picture above shows the busy rink when the Zamboni comes along - not an Italian dessert, but an ice smoothing machine, for which everyone waits patiently to do its work. The technology was invented in 1949 by Frank Zamboni and a giant blade shaves the top of the ice to get rid of rough surfaces caused by skates.
Going home
The snow is late this year but now it's here I will be practising turning corners and stopping on the ice. If you see a stiff-legged skater at Beaver Lake please keep your distance.


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