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The Oak Park Community Centre ice rink Kate getting some help with her technique
By George, I think she's got it! Kate and Laura shovelling the snow off the backyard rink

Kate got to go ice skating for school sport last week, something that never happened back home. She felt a bit sheepish about it because the kids got put into groups of experts, intermediates, beginners and non-skaters, and of course she was the only one in the non-skating group. Our Katey doesn't like not being good at things, but with a bit of help from other people she did really well and quickly got the hang of it.

We have a small ice rink in the back yard, which Dave built for us before he left. It's quite a common practise over here to build these backyard rinks in winter... you build a frame out of timber, line it with a huge tarp, fill it with water and wait for it to freeze. Trouble is, this winter is the warmest winter on record, and there has not really been enough days of constantly sub-zero temperatures to get a serious freeze happening. It's a shame that the kids haven't been able to get out into the backyard to practise their skating. I thought we were in for some cold weather last week so I tried to fill it up a bit in anticipation, but the hose was frozen solid...

By the way, the reason that backyard ice rinks are so common here is that ice skating - or more particularly, ice hockey - is like a national religion. Everywhere you look, you see evidence that hockey is the dominant sport. Every kid at school seems to play on a hockey team, and there alway seems to be a game showing on the TV. You see kids out in their driveways after school playing street hockey.

I'm still waiting for the big cold snap.

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