Tag Archives: Canada

Flag Alpha Bag

I was lucky enough to go over to Canada this summer. And as part of the trip I spent a few days in Halifax (I even had a swim there).

Halifax Farmers' Market

Halifax Farmers’ Market

One morning that I was there I went to the farmers’ market to have breakfast (I love going to places like that to see both the fresh, local produce and the local people). One of the stalls I saw had a really interesting selection of bags which caught my eye, but I carried on walking around.

On my way past again I saw that one of the bags had a Flag Alpha design on it, so I stopped and had more of a nosey around. I even got chatting to the stallholder and she explained that the bags were made out of old sails – making them incredible durable and also a great way to reuse the sails. It also meant that each bag is unique.

Immediately it occurred to me that to have a bag for my swimming kit that was a) made out of old sail and b) had a Flag Alpha design would be pretty special.

Unfortunately they didn’t have anything there and then, but I took a card and continued to think about about it more. I left for a few weeks after I got back, but in the end I decided to treat myself and got in touch and ordered one to be made and shipped. It has arrived today:

Flag Alpha Bag

Flag Alpha Bag

Details of the sail

Details of the sail

It looks great and will now become my new bag for swimming kit. So if you see me at the pool or lake over the next few months you’re likely to see it. It is also laptop size, so I might even take it to a few meetings too.

If you want one, get in touch with Windbag – www.windbagcompany.ca

– – –

I’m writing a book – Open For Business: business advice from a fresh [water] perspective.

Please check out my crowdfunding site to pre-order a copy – https://www.sponsume.com/project/open-business


1 Comment

Filed under Swimming

More Canadian Lakes

As I said, I’m visiting family in Canada and on the weekend we went out camping up into the foothills of the Rockies. If you’ve never been – go. It’s just amazing scenery and countryside and so powerfully huge and impressive. It really makes you feel small.

While we were up there I got to go swimming in another lake.


Given that we were up in the mountains I was a little concerned that it would be cold, glacial water and a bit too ‘bracing’ for me. But it was lovely – probably about 16 degrees.

I only did some widths of the lake, rather than the length as there was no-one around with a boat that could come with me and I didn’t know the lake well enough to risk it on my own. In the end that was the right decision because after about 30 minutes (4 widths) everyone else was keen to move on – it turns out it was colder out of the water.

But another nice swim done in a Canadian lake.

This is where we were camping:


But we didn’t see any wildlife despite the warnings:


Leave a comment

Filed under Swimming

Swimming facilities in Canada

I’ve visiting family in Southern Alberta in Canada in a town you’ll almost certainly not have heard of unless you’ve been here. It’s called Lethbridge and is situated between the grain growing prairies of Canada and the foothills of the Rockies. It’s not the most picturesque of places, but I love it here as I love visiting my family.

One thing Lethbridge does have though is a university and within the university is a sports complex and within the sports complex is a swimming pool. And that swimming pool is amazing.

It’s a newer, cleaner, very possibly bigger version of Ponds Forge with a 50m pool that can be altered by the use of a moveable platform, a diving pool and a kids pool. It also has a spectator area and great showers and changing areas.

The Ponds Forge facility is the closest 50m pool* to where I live in the UK and it’s an hour away from me. Based on that, I’m making the assumption that the Ponds Forge pool is very probably the closest 50m to around 5million people in the UK. To be the closest to that number of people the Lethbridge pool would need to be the only 50m pool in the whole of the province of Alberta – which I sincerely doubt.

* at least with these kinds of facilities.

Anyway I swam there and it was lovely.

Having said that, I can now understand why some people look to have underwater MP3 players. I’ve never bothered before as I kinda don’t see the point. One of the things that I need to train for is the mental boredom as much as the physical effort. I’m not allowed to have an MP3 player while I’m swimming the events I enter, so I don’t think I should train with them either.

However, as the Lethbridge university pool complex is so large it meant that number of different groups were using it while I swam. Not only were there a few lane swimmers (of which I was one), but there were also swimming lessons, parents with kids and a synchronised swimming training session.

That training session was using music and lots of instructions from the coach, making it a noisy session – and with the music seemingly pumped through the water as well it meant that it was hard to get ‘into the zone’ to just swim. If I’d had some I would have gladly worn some headphones and listened to music.

I swam 2 miles on Thursday and 2 miles on Friday.

Leave a comment

Filed under Swimming

A great lake

It wasn’t one of the Great Lakes, but it still felt pretty good to me. I was swimming in Canada in Lake Kearney near Halifax, Nova Scotia.


I’ve been in Halifax for a few days on holiday and once I knew I was coming I wanted to see if I could find somewhere to swim. So with a bit if help from the ‘Did You Swim Today’ Facebook group, some Googling and a cheeky email or two I found a group of guys who swim every Sunday morning at the lake.

In a way that seemed to match both the Canadian attitude to this sort of thing, and the OW swimming community’s attitude I was immediately welcomed, made to feel part of the group, but not fussed over all at the same time.

The swim itself was a nice gentle 1km up the lake, waiting for the group to all catch up, then the 1km back to shore. In a way that also seemed typically Canadian (or Nova Scotian) the lake was free for all to enter and even had lifeguards on the small beach at peak times.

When we’d finished half of the group (there were only 6 of us) just melted away to get on with their lives without allowing me to thank them. I did get to go for a coffee (I had tea) with a couple of them, but even then I wasn’t allowed to buy the drinks.

So thanks to Mike and his group and I’ll look you up next time I’m in Halifax!


Filed under Swimming

Canadian Bacon

Well, it looks like my recent Canadian holiday has added about 2kgs to my already full* frame. It’s not altogether surprising though as I quite like to eat (hence the already “full” frame) and Canadians like to give people food.

* I’m being polite and not actually calling myself fat.

I was in Canada for about 10 days. From a diet perspective the first three days in Vancouver were pretty good. The food was good and plentiful, but not overly so and I also got to go out for a run a couple of times.

It was once we got to see my relatives in Alberta that things started to go downhill for the diet. It’s ten years since I last visited them and they were pleased to see me – and to show that pleasure they offered food… and then more food. Don’t get me wrong, the food was great – from ribs and steak and burgers and cabbage rolls to donuts and apple pie and cinnamon buns – it’s just that there was a lot of it. On top of that, 25cms of snow put paid to any running.

Bacon, egg and cheese muffin

This was just a mid-morning snack. I’d popped round to my cousin’s to use her wi-fi and she was cooking these just on the off-chance that her son would come round. I mentioned how good they smelt and one appeared in front of me. I’d only just had breakfast, but… well it would have been rude not to.

Mmmm, steak.

This was lunch just before we left – absolutely gorgeous steak, with jacket potatoes and veg. It was beautiful – but I nearly couldn’t drive to the airport because I was so full.

I know I could have refused all the food, but actually I couldn’t have done. And I didn’t.

If you want to see more examples of Canadian food, then see these pictures by @walkerama.

Also, if you didn’t get the reference you should definitely watch the film Canadian Bacon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Thoughts

Are Kindles okay now?

I was on a flight over the weekend – flying over Sunday night and landing on Monday – and I was surprised that I was allowed to read my Kindle all the way through both the take-off and landing. Normally I’m asked to turn it off and I turn to paper based reading, but on this flight no-one said anything. So are they allowed now?

That said it was a bit of a weird flight.

Overnight flights can be a little bit strange anyway, and then if you add the fact that it was outside of the high season you can multiply the weirdness.

Just near where we were sitting was:

– An incredibly arrogant woman who actually got up to get something from the overhead lockers as we were about 15 seconds away from take-off – you should have seen the speed and anger of the stewardess to close the overhead locker!

– A loud (possibly South African) family – two parents and a grown-up son – who seemed to shout to each other about the films they were watching and be taking photos of the screen – with a flash while most people were trying to sleep.

– A young woman with a baby who was befriended by another passenger who spent as long looking after the baby as the mother did – admittedly this wasn’t weird so much as sweet, but certainly unusual.

And to multiply the weirdness there was us too.

For those interested I was flying back from Canada – of which MUCH more to follow I’m sure.


Filed under Thoughts