Last Chance to Enter to be @VisitEngland’s Fan in a Van

Having lived in an Olympic Town my advice to the residents, take the time off work to fully enjoy the experience and start planning now to make the most out of the experience.  I can’t say that living in an Olympic Town is all a bed of roses.  We are still paying for it in Vancouver and the Games Committee can certainly make things trying for the residents leading up to the Games. While a few local businesses benefit, many can suffer during the Games.  You can dwell on these negatives, or you can recognise that it is happening and turn it into a fun once in a lifetime experience for you.  You don’t even have to be into sports, because, as I discovered, the Games brings with it this lovely thing called the Cultural Olympiad, where you get to experience cultural flavours from around the World in the form of food, beverages, theatre, music, and art, and much of this is free.  It really is a lovely way to get a taste for World travel without leaving home (or at least your hometown).  In fact, it was this that I needed to finally bring Roamancing to life.


Watching a few of the Russian Figure Skaters Train


So speaking of making the most of it, one thing I wish I’d done (had I stopped being annoyed by the Games Committee sooner), was apply for experiences to take part in the Games.  I mention this as Tourism England (aka. Visit England / Enjoy England) has a pretty gosh, darn cool opportunity for a UK digital storyteller leading up to London 2012, in the form of the Fan in a Van Search.


Tourism England's search for the Fan in a Van is on. Will this be you?


Basically they are putting one lucky budding digital storyteller with a passionate love for England in an iconic Anglomobile, decked out with everything they need to get started on a 70-day, all-expenses-paid trip around their green and pleasant land, following the Olympic Torch.  In return, the fans job is to entertain England with videos, photos, tales of adventure and lots of fun.

If this is something that sounds like fun to you, then it’s time to put down the crumpet, pour a fresh cup of tea, roll up the sleeves and get writing as the deadline for Round 1 of this competition is April 9th at midnight, UK time.  That’s tomorrow!

To be entered into Round 1, you need to send them 100 words on your favourite place in England and why you love it, accompanied by a picture you’ve taken to go with it.

Depending on how you fair on Round 1, there will be 2 more rounds:

  • Round 2: A 60 second video clip telling them why you love where you live.
  • Round 3: Meet the team at VisitEngland HQ and tell them why you’re the best person for the role.

Here is where to go for those that wish to apply.

Wishing those of you that decide to apply, good luck and have fun with this!


And with the hint of an accent it all flooded back … Vancouver 2010

Funny how history repeats itself.  A year ago, I was somewhat blassay about the Olympics being in this fine city of ours. The Olympic Committee had not been especially warm or welcoming to locals, but a few of the Houses changed all that for me, especially La Maison de la Suiss and Saxony House.  Oh and how did I love the music at the Saskatchewan Pavilion and all the fantastic Arts at Atlantic Canada House! Well, I’ve been feeling a little the same way as the one year celebration got under way this weekend, that is until a heard a German accent yesterday and then I was taken right back, burning red face and all.

You see for me the Olympics weren’t really about the games or sport at all. They were about the people I met, both local and from around the world and in sharing in our traditions from music and celebration to food and beer.  Oh and there were some fine beers – thank you Saxony House, I get teary eyed just thinking about those tankards.  I’m happy to provide you with an address for a care package.

Saxon-Canadian Relations (aka Being a good Canadian Diplomat.)

So we all need goals, especially around games, and that I had, just like any of the athletes.  My goals were two fold.

  1. Enjoy as much food, drink and music from all around the world, as possible.
  2. Encourage International Relations by hosting a little competition of my own against my darling hummingbird604.  How you ask?  Well, our own Olympic Sport of seeing who got more Olympic dates.

Now, this really set a great purpose and tone to the Games as things got off to a roaring start in our Olympic Event.  The Opening Ceremonies alone I had three dates.  Needless to say, despite the odds, I was leaving Raul behind in a white wash.

Olympic Dates 2 & 3 (Yes, they happened at the same time, as did Date 1 - he's taking the pictures. I'm not a girl that wastes time.)

That was until this Saxon fellow got in the way, and turned me head over heels in a hunt for unrequited love.

Stealing a Kiss

Not wanting to lose though, I tossed my heart aside and still managed to get in a kiss or two:

Thats when Raul pulled off the mittens and started playing dirty, deeking me out and landing me a very real Olympic romance and case in International Relations in my lap.  Now, I’m not one to smooch and tell, but lets just say that that German accent yesterday was all I needed to take me right back to Vancouver 2010 and turn my face as red as a beet.

Faced with nostalgia, I think I’ll dig up a bit of our unused footage to share with you in the coming weeks.  Who knows it might even help to me cure of this past year’s weakness for foreign men.

A Van Sexy Review: Nixon in China

I have always loved stories!  I love all parts of them.

As a kid, that is what I did all day.  I came up with different stories, in different ways and enticed my buds to act them out by turning them into games.  No scripts were handed out, as then they’d realize what I was up to, plus to be frank, as an actress I prefer improvising. So there was me and my little gang of boys and without them realizing that we were actually putting on a play, I’d get them making costumes or puppets, and building sets, props and puppet theatres and acting out the play itself, all unaware.

Walking on to the set of Nixon in China at the Vancouver Opera the other night took me right back there, to my childhood.  And that, my friends is a very, very good thing, as I had an absolutely grand childhood filled with stories and imagination.  In fact I think being taking back to my roots is exactly what I needed to refocus myself on what I truly love about storytelling as opposed to the confused spiral of not being sure which direction I’ve been heading in as of late.

On the Set of Nixon in China

Why did it take me back to the carefree days of my childhood?  Well, initially, it was the set.  The set of Nixon in China is in essence a giant puppet theatre – like the magnetic puppet theatres that you had as a kid.  You know the one that you could lower different cardboard cut out scenes into.  Well these were huge cardboard cut out scenes with high tech apparatus for getting them to dance into the scene at the click of a button – literally.  Can we say kid in a candy store?  My eyes were hungrily popping out of my head.

Nixon inChina Set - A life size puppet theatre!!!

And the performance itself, only excited my mind with storytelling bliss that much more!  The toys and storytelling elements they had to play with were awesome!  I was so completely jealous of the storytellers, and they did such a good job of marrying the elements together.  They had giant screens to project moving pictures and scenery on to, movable 3D scenery, an actual working and filming camera that was seamlessly worked into the story, and then, of course, the players themselves.

And players were wonderful!  Robert Orth painted such a believable Richard Nixon that it was almost comical and Thomas Hammons as Henry Kissinger kept making me giggle.  What great character actors!  And they did it all whilst delivering their dialog in what seemed like ease in an operatic voice. Wow! Perhaps my favourite part of the action though was the Chinese Ballet in Act II.  What an incredible treat! Not only Opera, but the ballet too!  And despite the rather gruesome story that Fei Guo was telling, she was absolutely entrancing to watch.  Brought tears to your eyes, it was so beautiful! And a laugh to my lips every time I saw the clash with Thomas Hammons’ antics in the ballet.

The Players of Nixon in China

Now at the end of the day, despite the quality of all the other elements, it really comes down to story. So was the story there for me?  Yes.  Granted it was a bit of a different story with no resolve in the end, but it made me think and it told a story of a time in history. I have always loved historical story.  But damn!  Now I have to read up on the politics of  China and the US in the early 70s. Finally, despite the fact that Act III was my least favourite and reminded me somewhat of the drunken elephant scene in Dumbo, it brought up a very real question, one that I have been struggling with as of late.  What is it all for?  What have we really accomplished?

I highly recommend catching a performance of Nixon in China. It will certainly make you think. You can catch it in Vancouver – tonight (the 16th), Thursday the 18th and Saturday the 20th.

For more reviews from my fellow bloggers at the Opening Night of Nixon in China, take a read at:

Stacey and I at the Canadian Premiere of Nixon in China

Super Human Feats Backstage

Well you all already know that I love the Opera!  So needless to say I am most excited to be going to a very contemporary political opera tonight – Nixon in China – as a part of the Cultural Olympiad. But I am even more excited after seeing this video of the rehearsals.

Much like the Paralympians, this cast and crew are everyday looking people capable of super human feats! Can’t wait!!!!

Who’s Watching?

I spent nearly an hour with a huge crowd watching a man on a strange unicycle, waiting for something really big to happen.  There was so much build up going on that it was like watching a bad movie where you feel you have to stick it out to the end.  Meanwhile, I realized we were all missing the Olympics.  Was this really more interesting?

The engaging power of a unicycle

We decided to leave and never saw the big finish.  As we walked around, I started to think about all the things people are doing other than watching the games.  Myself included, they are spending hours standing in line.  The day before, I spent nearly 3 hours waiting to get into the Atlantic Canada House for their Kitchen Party.  It was well worth it and I did make some new friends whom I’ll never see again, but it was 3 hours spent waiting, rather than watching.

Standing in Line-The new Olympic sport

There were hundreds of people that unicycle night drinking hot chocolate and ice skating at Robson Square.  Even more were just sitting on the steps watching dancers perform.  There were crowds waiting for balloon animals and my favourite all time non-game watching activity….the rice cracker maker!  This machine would twirl around and shoot rice crackers out like fire works.

A delicious distraction


There were so many people just roaming the streets trying to be a part of the action.  As I’ve had a chance to reflect on this revelation, I’ve realized that I have watched less of the Olympic games than ever before in my life because I live in the city that is hosting them.  I have wanted to be with all the other excited people from Canada and all around the world and that has led me to downtown or surrounding areas where I have been nowhere near a television, but captivated by spirit.  I have to admit, that as thrilled as I am for the amount of medals Canada is winning, I am most proud of the fact that I got picked up while filling up with gas the other day and invited out to party with some out of town boys!  Of course, as a mom and wife I had to pretend I was unfortunately busy, but knowing you’ve still got what it takes is worth gold.  I do enjoy watching our athletes, but given the chance, I can see how some might  pick this alien dance party instead.
Alien dance party