I have to admit I was really happy to see a good band starting off the free outdoor concerts at Winterlude this year. I haven’t seen Colin James in ages, and his repetoire sure has changed since then. Our plan was to have a bite to eat downtown then head over to the canal to watch the show.

Instead of the one-hour walk home, I decided to stay downtown and start working on getting a table at Darcy McGee’s, the pub on Sparks at Elgin. The place was packed at 5 p.m. on a Friday night. I was a bit out of place, having never walked into a packed bar by myself, even meeting up with people who I knew were already there. This time, I would likely have to wait about an hour by myself. To top it off, I had a huge down-filled parka on to keep myself warm later that night. Let’s just say it acted like a portable sauna as I made my way from the “Please add my name  to the long list of people wanting a table for dinner” location to the bar.

By the time I got near the bar, I was feeling more like I was in Cuba than at the start of Winterlude. Once I got the coat off, I had to find a place to hang it, close enough to where I would park myself until my friend and husband showed up. Then I had to manoeuvre to the bar, with my backpack in tow and try to get one of the bartenders attention. It was actually easier than I thought. I ordered my pint, got it quite quickly and sat  down on the bar stool that was offered from one of two men visiting from Cape Breton.

The two were friends, and the one I spoke to was in the wholesale seafood business. He’d come to Ottawa on business, and managed to see Thursday’s hockey game, which everyone was saying was a much better Sens team. We talked about most Cape Brettoners being Habs fans, or Boston fans, and then the dreaded Leafs were mentioned. I told him that “anything but Leafs” is my rule for talking to strangers in bars. He was also in town to surprise a good friend who got married last night at a small ceremony. He and three other friends were going to show up at the box seats that the bride, groom and wedding party were using at tonight’s game.

Once he had left for a bit, a vulture moved in. By this point I knew Brenda and Rob were getting closer and I shouldn’t have to put up with the vulture for too long. I told him my husband played rugby and then just kept asking him questions. He liked talking about himself … way too much.Thankfully Rob and Brenda arrived soon into the conversation, and about 5 minutes later we had our table.

For supper, Rob ordered the shrimp linguini, I had a Beef and Guinness Boxty and Brenda had a chicken salad. The food was good as far as pub food goes, but Paddy Bolan’s boxty is better. The service was excellent. Our server was Uncle Ray, but Mellow Man would have been a better nickname. We were out the door before 7 p.m., which is when I had thought the show started.

The Governor General was the MC for the opening ceremonies. We caught the tail end of her speech, and then the sound and light show started. It was actually really good. They used the old grand central train station (now the Government of Canada Conference Centre) and incorporated elements of the building’s architecture into the show, which lasted about 20 minutes. Then Colin James came out and rocked a large crowd that was packed on the stage, up the canal banks and on the bridges, for at least an hour. I had planned on videoing a song or two, but Rob forgot my camera at home. Probably better since I was able to enjoy the show instead of trying to hold it steady for 5 minutes. I did snap a few picks / short clips with the cell phone.

If you go, don’t forgot to drop by the Rogers booth. They take free pics in front of their blackberry ice sculpture, then e-mail it to you. So, on that note, here are the pics:

Now get out there and enjoy winter!!!!