Newfoundland, St. John’s, July 28 to Aug 4, 2008, Part 3

16 05 2009
Chris and Step enjoy a Classic NL "Boil Up"

Chris and Step enjoy a Classic NL "Boil Up"

The day before the wedding we picked up our Vancouver friend, Chris, from the airport, and Andrea, another bridesmaid, arrived from Ontario. Instead of a rehearsal dinner—-because there was no rehearsal—there was a “boil up”, which I imagined would be a huge metal barrel full of lobsters and corn over an open fire, but turned out to be a regular old barbecue, which, or course, is still a wonderful thing to have. It had originally been planned for the “beach” but because of the rainy weather it was at Undrea’s other sister Janet’s house. Todd made me a veggie burger which I ate but then the beef burgers looked so good I had one of those, too, and then I was SO FULL. UNCOMFORTABLY FULL. I was actually in pain. That is where gluttony will get you.

Lemmy?

Lemmy?

That night Undrea went to a B&B to be joined by her bridesmaids in preparation for the next day’s wedding, and I went back to Bond Street with the guys. The wedding ceremony was DIY all away, as was the decorating of the hall, so there were no lack of jobs for the guests. I made a big tray of snacks for the ladies, which Todd took over to the B&B, and also on and off pretty much emptied the fridge making snacks for everyone else, too. I also spent quite a lot of time down at the hall helping put up decorations, a job I enjoy. I made sure I was back at the house, early, though, to get ready, because with one bathroom and a groom and several groomsmen, I correctly predicted a lack of mirror time. Step looked particularly handsome, I thought, having the day before visited the local barber to have his facial hair sculpted like ­­­­­­­­­­­­Lemmy’s in Motorhead. I had to laugh at Bart—-no, no, with Bart—aw, who am I kidding? It was at him—because he looked so disheveled an hour before his wedding, but of course, by the time of the ceremony looked dashing and well groomed (haha! Get it? Well groomed?)

A Neighbourhood Affair

A Neighbourhood Affair

Special permission had been gotten from the city of St. John’s to have the ceremony right on Bond Street, and the day was a little overcast and slightly drizzly, but considering it was St. John’s that is the best one could hope for, especially as there was no contingency plan for rain. There was a long red carpet flanked with flowers for the bride to walk down, and  a wedding arch with fabric on it. Undrea arrived at one end  the street in a white horse and carriage while Chris played “Here Comes the Bride” on his electric guitar. After that a lot of stuff went not as planned, but in a pleasant sort of way. Elizabeth whispered to me she forgot to get Newfoundland sand to mingle with the British Columbian sand, so she had just split the BC sand in half. I was surprised there was such a thing as Newfoundland sand and said she should have just put a couple of rocks into the Newfoundland sand jar. The in-laws seemed surprised they were expected to light torches, and the torches kept going out anyway because it was a little windy. All week Step and I had asked Bart and Undrea if they would use “We’ve only Just Begun” as their wedding dance song, so when Undrea read her vow to Bart, I burst out in inappropriate laughter at the part where she said “Even though we’ve only just begun”. (Undrea knew why I laughed, as she had included it in the vows as a joke for us, but of course no one else did). Someone bumped the table with the registry on it and broke a vase full of flowers. Despite these minor glitches, it was a lovely ceremony, and not too long. Lindsay sang “On the Street Where You Live” and, after a brief scuffle for scissors, bird seed was thrown on the Newlyweds.

One of the neighbours watched the ceremony in his undershirt, while sipping a rum and coke, and told Bart’s mom that it was the nicest wedding he had ever seen.

IMG_3083

The Spirit of Newfoundland Awaits Its Guests

This Cake was Homemade!

This Cake was Homemade

Spirit of Newfoundland is a theatre and special event company that had bought St. John’s Masonic Hall and that was where the reception was held. The DIY decorated hall looked amazing, as you can see by the picture. One thing unusual that I liked about the reception was that we were given menus with dinner choices rather than all having the same dinner or choosing months in advance. Because it was catered by the Spirit of Newfoundland, I had the cod. The wedding cake, which, to my amazement, Undrea’s Mother had made herself, wasn’t served. Instead we were given choices of dessert plates. Mmmmm….dessert.

The Bride with Her Maid

The Bride with Her Maid

There was a lot of partying and music after dinner, with Lindsay singing a song and a good long set by Bart, Step and Chris’ band, Phat Tank. Due to Bart living on the other side of the country, Phat Tank doesn’t get a lot of rehearsal time but they still sounded pretty tight, and all the l’il girls at the reception just loved them.

Phat Tank with Bart in the Middle

Phat Tank with Bart in the Middle

The Morning After

The Morning After

We stayed late, but Step and I got back to the house earlier than everyone else (Bart and Undrea had a hotel room for the night). The house had been all clean that morning but now it looked like the proverbial typhoon had hit it. It was impressive, actually, the amount of disarray that can occur over one busy day.

Traffic in the house started early the next morning, considering. It was time for the morning-after brunch, which would be held at Undrea’s parent’s house. They live in Paradise, on Angel Road, and to get there we had to drive Kinder and Gentler Avenues. Seriously. Newfoundland really has a playful way of naming things.

Get Birdy

Get Birdy

Brunch was quiches and salad, and slices of the wedding cake which hadn’t been served the night before. The presents were opened very traditionally, with an audience and Nicole making a note of each gift, of who had given what. The best part of brunch was playing badminton outside. Bart, Step, Chris and I made a goal to volley 20 times without dropping the bird, which was actually a lot harder than you would think, and only finally got achieved when we tried to do it in complete silence. That worked so well we actually got over 30.

That afternoon Chris, Step and I finally made it to Signal Hill, an historic landmark famous as being the site where Marconi received the World’s first trans-atlantic wireless signals, among other things. Interestingly, this is not why it’s called “Signal Hill”. It is a strategic high point on the edge of St. John’s Harbour and as such has been the site of many significant battles and what-not and is called Signal Hill because in the 1700’s signals were sent via it’s flagmast. Anyway, it’s battlements have been through many carnations, and it is a great vantage point to see the city, the harbour, and the areas surrounding them. The city side of Signal Hill also contains the prestigious “The Battery” neighbourhood, which was once fishers’ houses on narrow roads which have now been renovated and gentrified. Unfortunately it was a grey day to see Signal Hill, but as we were leaving St. John’t the next morning it was out last chance and it’s kind of mandatory.

The Outskirts of St. John's as seen from Signal Hill

The Outskirts of St. John's as seen from Signal Hill

After Signal Hill we phoned a bunch of people looking for a place to get Spicy Noodles but that didn’t pan out. We ended up going to an Asian fusion restaurant called the Shanghai. It had modern décor, and the food was really good, including wontons and spicy green beans, and of course, noodles—Boogie Bussers must have noodles. The portions weren’t huge and it was a little more high end than we were looking for but we left satisfied and with extra food for the kids still at the house.

Screech In!

Screech In!

Not many people make it through Newfoundland without getting “screeched in”, a welcoming ceremony where the newcomer learns a thing or two, kisses a cod, and becomes an honourary Newfoundlander—those Newfoundlanders are generous that way. Admittedly, it’s a custom not without contention, because a few NLers believe it mocks the tradition of the place, and indeed, that was why Bart, who had been in St. John’s for over 3 years, had never been screeched in (I should point out here that the vast majority of Newfoundlanders, all the ones I met, for sure, view screeching in  as a joyful and welcoming process, and many upon meeting me asked if we had been screeched in yet). The night following the brunch would change all that for Bart, and he would finally become an honourary Newfoundlander, if marrying a native born wasn’t sufficient for that status, when we finally visited George Street.

Phat Tank on George Street

Phat Tank on George Street

PimpMyShedGeorge Street is a street in downtown St. John’s which is what many would refer to as an “entertainment” district—-almost every business is a bar for about 3 or 4 blocks. That’s actually a lot of bars for a town with a population of 125,000 people, especially considering there are even more bars located off of George Street—I have mentioned Newfoundlanders like to party, haven’t I? As the serendipity of the Cross Canada Boogie Bus Adventure of 2008 would have it, the annual George Street Festival coincided with our visit to St. John’s, and a small entrance free at the foot of the street got us a wristband pass to all the places with cover charges, and there were bands in the streets and special food vendors. St. John’s is a lot more relaxed about liquor laws than Vancouver, and you could buy a drink in one bar and were welcome to take it out onto the street. There were also a lot of ads and I think we all agreed our favourite was the Lamb’s Rum contest “Pimp my Shed”. Only in the Atlantic provinces…

A Popular Screech Inner at a Popular Bar

A Popular Screech Inner at a Popular Bar

Many bars have Screeching In ceremonies but the most popular is Christian’s, a small 2 storied wallpapered pub. I believe it’s popularity has to do with the Screeching In host, Keith, who’s a natural born entertainer with a finely tuned style of that special humour east coasters are famous for. We signed up early, to be sure to get in, and paid a couple of bucks for “materials” and enjoyed George Street for an hour or two. When we got back to Christians it was totally crowded but we were still early enough to snag some seats. Judging by the amount of people being screeched in there by now must be more honourary Newfoundlanders than native born ones. Perhaps it’s an insidious plot to take over the world? And would that be such a bad thing?

Chris Kisses the Cod

Chris Kisses the Cod

To become a Screecher you must pass several exacting initiation rites in a row. One being learning the not-so-top secret Screecher greeting and answer in Newfoundland lingo—long may your big jib draw!—eat some Newfoundland steak, and everybody’s favourite; kneel and kiss the cod. Sometimes the cod is fresh, but Keith had a particularly ugly large frozen one. I wasn’t that comfortable kissing the cod, not because it’s an ugly fish, but because it was a place where many mouths had gone before. Ugh (I admit I am a bit of a germaphobe). But I reasoned that since it was frozen it might neutralize any cold sore or flu germs so I went ahead and did it, and I as you can read I lived to tell the tale. We were then “knighted” by Keith with a paddle and given a certificate and a shot of Screech, a famous Newfoundland rum. Step’s certificate had his name spelled wrong.

Karaoke Kops: Where Fun is the Law

Karaoke Kops: Where Fun is the Law

I had noticed there was a bar on George Street called Karaoke Kops, Where Fun is the Law. A bar that is all karaoke all the time, with mandatory fun! We went directly post screech-in. It was crowded but we all got to rock—Bart and Undrea got a few extra due to their Newlywed status. I can’t help but notice other Canadian cities put Vancouver karaoke options to shame. St. John’s is about a 10th its size, and Vancouver hasn’t had a dedicated karaoke bar since the Duff closed.

Later we were hungry, but too afraid to eat George Street fare. Bart and Undrea’s fridge was almost bare after the snacking the day before, but we did find a bag of frozen perogies that made a good snack, and we watched a video of Bart and Undrea’s short lived band “Hal and the Pod Bay Doors”, which they contrived for International Space Day. Bart plays the theramin!

The Morning After the Morning After

The Morning After the Morning After

The next morning some knew they had been Screeched In, but they just had to plow through because it was our last day in St. John’s and the party wasn’t over, for it was time for a drive north, because we were all invited to a barbecue party at Clarkes Beach, and so we went.

All Dressed Up with Some Place to Go

All Dressed Up with Some Place to Go

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