09.08.10 Banff

Today was the team’s last real free day before flying out to Ottawa tomorrow to start the main purpose of our trip. Yesterday evening having also been the last night off before the serious end of the tour, we sampled a bit more of the Banff nightlife. By coincidence, we met some of the hotel staff also enjoying a night off and this gave us a nice opportunity to socialise with them and thank them for being so helpful during our stay.

After the enjoyments of last night, some again ‘chose’ to have a lie in before a relaxing last day in Banff. However, the walkers of the team could not pass up a last opportunity to explore more of the Rockies’ stunning scenery, so took the drive towards Lake Louise to Morraine Lake to do the walk along the valley of the 10 peaks and up to Lake Eiffel, as recommended by the Albertans on the range the day before. . Although our views where somewhat obscured by the rather inclement weather, like true Brits we pushed on in our shorts, t-shirts and raincoat combos and were fortunate enough to get some sunlight and views over lunch. We were again quite hopeful of some bear sightings especially as everyone taking the trail from the lake was told they had to be in groups of 4 or more in case of bear attack. Despite this the closest we came was a bear of the small feathered variety, the lesser spotted Guinea Bear. Though this may have had something to do with almost every walker jingling along to the sound of bear bells. We returned to Banff after enjoying some well-earned tea and cake on the terrace of the chateau hotel overlooking Lake Louise.

Meanwhile, for those less keen on walking, Simon Harding had organised an outing to Brewsters Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course, whither he set off in the company of Peter Griggs, Archie Whicher and Steven Thomas. Dividing into two teams, each sharing a buggy, the 9 hole match got under way in perfect golfing conditions. After some wayward shots on the first hole Griggs and Whicher were three up after four holes, with Griggs providing a steady anchor whilst Whicher's flashing blades brought him triumph and disaster in roughly equal measure. Harding and Thomas responded with wins at the fifth and sixth holes to reduce the deficit to one hole. However Whicher struck a killer blow to win the 7th whilst all three of his companions were lost in the trees, of which there are many in Canada, making Griggs and Whicher two up with two to play. It was all over when Whicher struck again to win the eighth giving his pair the match in three and one. On the consolation 9th Thomas made a fine par four and Harding produced the shot of the day, chipping in from off the green to card a four, sadly too little too late. All felt very fortunate to drive away as the heavens opened and the surrounding peaks were obscured by Banff's daily thunder storm.

Meanwhile the Main Coach and his better half took a boat trip out on Lake Minniwanker, accompanied by the team physio, Jackie Davis and her husband Gareth, who had travelled up from their new home in Medecine Hat, Alberta, to join us for a few days.

The team rounded off the day with many taking the last opportunity to enjoy the hotel spa before busying themselves with packing for the flight to Ottawa tomorrow. Some team members made a last ditch attempt to see a bear by booking onto an evening safari but unfortunately this only brought them to more goats and deer.

Later, everyone met up for a team meal at the local Swiss restaurant to say farewell to the accompanying ‘WAGs’ - and the Honorary WAG, James- and also to Jackie, as sadly she has been unable to accompany the team to Ottawa as originally planned. We shall miss them but are looking forward to seeing the final two members of the team, Paul Sykes and Chris Haley, who will both be joining us tomorrow in Ottawa.