Tag Archives: walk

Walking on the Edge

12 Aug

Note: this picture is filled with people far braver than I!

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I exclaimed, before having to sit down and attempt to slow my heart that was pounding faster than a rabbit’s.

I was sat in a small holding room, clad in a fireman-red onesie when I got the news.

“I thought I just had to, you know, work my way around the outside of the CN Tower. You mean I actually have to lean over its edge?” I continued, nerves bubbling up to the top of my throat.

The rest of the people looked at me as if I was a bit crazy. After all, the activity was called the CN Tower EdgeWalk. Stepping to and leaning over the edge would make sense to most. But, having avoided pre-walk research for fear I would back out entirely, I only found out the true extent of the walk around the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings when I was already harnessed up and ready to hang.

Look! No hands!

The EdgeWalk in Toronto opened last year and has been pushing people’s limits as they walk along an outside grated deck, 1,168 feet above the ground for thirty minutes. Walkers are strapped into a double-harness which attaches to a sliding rail above their heads but, other than that, there are no railings or anything else between yourself and the ant-sized cars swooping along the Gardiner Expressway.

As I’ve spoken about before here on Gwiltypleasures, I have a fear of – not so much heights – but of falling off of things, or down things. Hills, cliffs, stairs – they all rank highly in my book of things I’m not fond of. Therefore, walking around the outside didn’t sound unmanageable but the idea of leaning off of it to stare into hundreds of feet of cascading space definitely did. While I was there to push my limits, I didn’t think I could do that.

Once I calmed my heart to a level that bordered somewhere between manic anxiety and heart attack, I joined in the line up with the two other couples who were relishing the idea of the walk more than I was. Our guide – Christian “the Professor” Morassutti – just chuckled at my anxiety, assuring me that once I got out onto the platform and into the wind I would be fine.

I was not.

Well, let me rephrase that. I wasn’t so bad as to start crying, curl up in a ball and refuse to move. I couldn’t – I’d been strapped into the line in the middle so I couldn’t escape.

But, as soon as I stepped out onto the platform, I knew I would be able to lean off the tower’s edge. Instead, I inched my way to the middle of the grating, smiling and applauding at the others as the leaned over and did all sorts of backwards and forwards tilting tricks. No matter how much the Professor tried to encourage me to go just that one step further, the sinking, vertigo feeling in my stomach couldn’t be calmed.

I’m so rocking that onesie!

Still – the views were pretty damn spectacular. I lived in Toronto for four years before moving to London, and it holds a warm and fuzzy place in my heart. But never had I seen the stretching, beautiful city in all its grandeur until then. The wind whipped around at 41 kilometres per hour and I reveled in the sunshine sparking down on all the skyscrapers of the financial district, the curved whiteness of the Skydome (aka: Air Canada Centre) and the long lanes of Yonge Street (the longest street in the world).

I may not have leaned over the edge, but I was at the edge of my comfort zone the whole time – and getting up there was just as pleasurable as anything else.

Thanks to the CN Tower for inviting me as a guest of the EdgeWalk. The 90 minute CN Tower EdgeWalk runs daily from May to October and costs $175.

A lakeside walk in Normandy

6 Jan

When a good chunk of people think of Normandy – the most northern territory in France – images of the World War II D-Day invasion almost inevitably spring to mind. Or, for my Canadian friends, the failed Dieppe raid, in which so many of our servicemen perished in the Canadian/British invasion.

But, to me, Normandy has come to symbolise so many more things: a very particular red colour of hair that many of the, ahem, upper middle-aged ladies love to sport; summer festivals, such as the fete in Vire where the townsfolk line the streets and watch the supremely decorated floats parade past; the bizarre junk sales in fields that attract an incomprehensible number of locals (despite an oft-overwhelming scent of cow dung); Calvados – in its legal and bootlegged versions; and, beautiful, sprawling lands that remind me how vast most other countries outside of England really are. There’s also the “Normandy stare” – a phrase coined by the boy’s step-father to describe the hard, penetrating looks the locals tend to give to anyone they may not know straight off – don’t worry; if you see it, it’s done in curiosity, not hostility.

A woman in a sombrero & a tractor: all normal at at a village junk sale; while (photo right) shows one of the fantastic floats used in the annual Vire Fete.

I tend to head to Normandy a few times a year, given half of the boy’s family live there now. It is a pleasant and relaxing part of the world, with little hustle & bustle – a far cry from London life.

But it was on our latest trip over that I discovered a beautiful, hidden gem of a place: Lake Dathée (or Lac de la Dathée en Francais). I had heard for years about the man-made lake (done to provide more water to the locals) from the boy’s family, but the weather or something else had never been quite right for us to make it there. Five miles southeast of the small town of Vire , the lake is a bit off the beaten path for anyone taking a quick trip through Normandy. But it is here that you will see eager locals out for an early 3.8-mile walk, or encounter cyclists getting away from the crowds of more populated areas of France. It is also an ornithological reserve and offers canoe rentals in summer.

So, on a sunny day we headed out to the lake to walk the dogs and spent much of our time gaping at the beautiful reflections in the mill pond-like water, which I couldn’t help but post.

The breathtaking reflections that greeted us...

Which only just continued...

And made us wonder where the road and lake, each began and ended...

A great day for some eager dogs (and the boy) to blow off some steam

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