Rain, snow, mist, wind, fog … saw an iceberg, ate some cod … yes, I’m in Newfoundland this week!

I flew over on Tuesday, and gave a talk in the Faculty of Education at Memorial University that afternoon. My topic was the Afghanistan project – what it is all about, and how might Canadian teacher educators get engaged. There were lots of good questions, and some interest in participation, so that was a good result.

After the talk one of my colleagues drove me to Quidi Vidi, a small fishing village on the edge of St John’s, to see an iceberg that has jammed up to the mouth of the cove. Later we went to the Duke of Duckworth pub, where I had a pint in honour of the Republic of Doyle. For those who don’t know it, this is a bit of an anomaly – it’s a funny and usually exciting show, and it’s on CBC! The Duke is the pub where a lot of the action takes place, and was well worth the visit. Later still we had fish and chips at Ches’s, which wasn’t. Here the reputation has outlasted the quality, I think.

Yesterday I drove west across the Avalon peninsular, past Clarenville and Terra Nova (where I had spoken at a conference last year), and in to what is terra nova for me – the area around Gander and Twillingate. Last night for dinner I had toutons, which I assumed were pronounced “two tonnes” in the French style. The waitress cracked up, and eventually – between wheezes of hilarity – informed me that they were pronounced “tao tons”. Go figure. Basically these are chunks of raw bread dough which are fried – because I was in a nice restaurant they were first mixed with salt cod as well, and then a garnish of fried salted pork fat was dotted around the plate. Newfoundland fusion cuisine, I guess.

My main course was Fogo Island cod, in a tomato sauce served over a bed of home made fettucine, and it was absolutely delicious. Fogo Island is near here, apparently, and is usually reached by a ferry. Unfortunately the ferry has broken down, and the replacement one coming up the coast from St John’s got storm-stayed somewhere due to the high winds and heavy seas. The people on the Island weren’t very pleased about being stuck there, and the folks on the mainland weren’t happy that they couldn’t get there, so apparently a replacement service involving small planes and helicopters has been initiated.

Personally, if the ferry can’t get there because of the weather, I don’t know that I’d choose to go by small plane or helicopter instead, but maybe that’s just me.

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