Tuesday 15 October 2013

Charlottetown, it's been a blast!

The lighthouse at Rocky Point, in front of Fort Amherst.
So the time has come for me to leave Charlottetown.. and what a great time I've had. I have learnt so much, and I am excited to take my new found skills back to the UK to start testing my samples.

I wish I had longer, there is still a lot of stuff that needs optimising when I'm back in Swansea, but it will be better to do it in my own lab with my own facilities - I have a nice big shopping list so I'm not sure how Andrew, my supervisor, is going to feel once I'm back, heheee.

Renee has 'mid-terms' (exams) starting this week, so she took me on a few adventures last weekend so that I could explore the island a bit more, and we had a fantastic time. First of all we visited the 'Argyle Shore', which is part of Prince Edward Islands Provincial Park (sort of like the UK's National Parks... I think), and then Port-la-Joye—Fort Amherst, a National Historic Site of Canada, at a place called Rocky Point, which overlooks Charlottetown Harbour. I learnt about the colonisation of the Island, from the Mi'kmaq natives, to the French settlers from Fortress Louisbourg in Nova Scotia, who called the point Port-la-Joye until the invasion of the British, when it was renamed Fort Amherst. It's a pretty sad story, and there is a memorial there for everyone who died during the battles. 
Being a tourist at the Argyle Shore.

I made a massive mistake when booking my flights - turns out that today (Monday) is Canadian Thanksgiving, so nobody was in work, and I fly to Boston tomorrow evening, which means, I've had an extra long weekend just to wait for a flight out of here, doh!

Either way, it's quite cool that I've been able to experience thanksgiving here, and on Saturday night I was invited over to Spencer's house for dinner and met his family - his wife, Diane, their two dogs, and two cats. The cats were huge tabby british shorthairs, my FAVOURITE, and anyone who knows me, knows I am definitely a cat lover. They were so cute I just wanted to take them home! Turns out that Spencer is also a very accomplished artist, and I got to see some of his wonderful creations - my favourite had to be the pop art lobsters in his living room, you can see some of his work here.

Saying goodbye to my mate John.
We had lobster (yay!) and cilantro (coriander) salsa, along with all sort of yummy things topped off with pumpkin pie, which is amazing and apparently what everyone has at thanksgiving over here - I need to learn to cook it once I'm home!

I have spent the remainder of the weekend doing a little bit more walking, and getting some pictures of my favourite landmarks... including a statue downtown of Canada's first prime minister, Sir. John A. Macdonald, which is on the corner of Victoria Row (walking street) and Queen Street in 'downtown' Charlottetown - my favourite area here (and yes, Dr. AFJ, if you're reading this, that side profile is for you).

Gahan ale. No funny faces.
This past week has been a bit crazy, rushing to get things finished and set ready for when I leave tomorrow. I realise I am doing this post in no particular order, starting with the weekend and working backwards?! On Friday, I was lucky enough to have a tour of the Charlottetown Aquatic Animal Pathogen and Biocontainment Laboratory, a level 3 government run facility (much like Cefas in the UK), which is able to work with hi-risk aquatic animal pathogens involving in vivo (live animal) and in vitro research and testing. The lab is part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency laboratory, which mainly looks at potato crop diseases (PEI is famous for it's potatoes). Dr. Phil Byrne, who is section head at CAAPBL, showed me their facilities where recent research involves diagnostic test development for a crustacean viral disease (WSSV). There were lots of doors and lots of clothes changes, and definitely no photos. Sorry!

Lyndsay, my host, has gone home to Toronto for thanksgiving so ReneĆ© and I went out to dinner last night. She has told me that I NEED to try the local Gahan ales before I leave, which are brewed on the island, below a restaurant, 'The Gahan House'. Beer makes me do a funny face, so I wasn't sure how well it was going to go, but I had a fantastic meal, a pint of beer, and thoroughly enjoyed it!

I am sat here procrastinating. My suitcase is half packed but I am still in my yoga pants, and need to make dinner. This time tomorrow I'll be in Boston... but first I need to go to the lab and say goodbye to my collaborators. Charlottetown, I'm gonna miss you!

Goodbye Charlottetown!

UPDATE: So it's my last day here at the university, and it wouldn't be the same without having a couple of photos with Spencer in the lab! Thanks for everything guys!

Professor Greenwood and I.

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