I'm a Lumberjack and I'm OK
Stone Monkey in Toronto
When the Toronto Women's Sword (TWS) team visited the UK last year, they spent a weekend with Stone Monkey and Triskele Sword before heading further north. It would be no exaggeration to say a very good time was had by all. The return visit, to the 2005 Toronto Ale, was therefore eagerly anticipated and required an exhausting pre-trip training regime – we'll leave that to your imagination. The reality lived up to expectation with superb hospitality, excellent music and even some pretty good dancing over the next 7 days.
The main event – the Ale – was on the first weekend. Still jet-lagged and hungover from the welcoming party, the Monkeys strutted their stuff to an appreciative audience of teams from all over Canada and the USA, not to mention the slightly bemused residents of Toronto. Dancing in public parks and spaces as well as bars and on street corners.
Remarkably, the sun shone for most of the whole period the team were in Canada. Apparently the sun shines continuously until a pre-ordained day in late October when winter arrives with tons of snow and sub-zero temperatures.
The team were joined for the week by Rick and Jan Prentice from Sheffield, who were then travelling around North America in their RV. They generously offered to become team transport and mobile HQ for the rest of our stay.
After the Ale, there was a brief pause before heading off on the obligatory trip to Niagra Falls. No television viewing or coffee table picture book can adequately prepare you for this spectacle. Awesome is the only applicable adjective. A lifetime “must go and see” experience.
The next stop was Lake Restoule, about 400km north and close to the Algonquin National Park. The TWS musician Kathy Reid-Naiman kindly invited us to her weekend cottage on the lakeside. The area is breathtaking beautiful, but the dominant memories are of the silence, the stars at night and the haunting cry of the Loon, a species of duck with a call like a werewolf... at least, we were told it was a duck.
Kathy's partner Arnie turned out to be a seriously good banjo player whicb lead to some storming sessions on the veranda and into the early hours. All too soon it was back to Toronto for a final evening out with our hosts and some rather hazy dancing including a midnight spot in a small Irish bar discovered by Dennis Parkes whilst out sleepwalking. Even the locals hadn't discovered that one! The singing went on till past 4 in the morning (Boy! Do those Toronto folks like to sing!) and then back to bed, to pack – and fly home.
A great experience and wonderful friendship, but if you've been involved in dancing for long, you know that already!