Canadian Food…. I am going to become rather weighty I think!

As you may have noticed from my posts, I do a lot of reading about Canada – this is for two reasons, 1. I am genuinely interested and 2. It stops me annoying those around me too much (WARNING: Show the slighest bit of interest and I will not shut up!).  During my extensive reading, I keep coming accross a few different foods and also people mentioning Tim Hortons.  I thought I would write a bit of a list of the most interesting things I found.  This can serve in part as a list of things I must remember to try – though there are some that I will definitely not be trying! 

  • Tim Hortons – this isnt actually a food, but it is mentioned alot by Canadians and visitors to Canada.  I looked it up to see what it is all about.  From what I can gather, it seems to be the Canadian version of Starbucks?!  I will definitely be checking it out…there must be more to it though?  Also, they seem to sell something called a ‘Double-Double’, research tells me this is coffee with two sugars and two spoons of cream – whilst this seems unnecessary, I kind of wish I liked coffee to try it!
  • Maple Syrup – it would seem that Quebec is the largest producer of Maple Syrup in the world – producing more than 75% of the supply
  • Bacon – bacon is bacon to me, but it does seem to be raved about by Candians….. will it be something to write home about?  Watch this space…
  • Beaver Tail – pastries topped with chocolate/ candy/ fruit.  Looking forward to trying these – not sure if it is like a pop tart or more like a croissant, either way, I’m in!
  • Nanaio Bars – they look like Millionaires Shortbread.  Investigation tells me that they are made with graham-crackers (are these the same as Jacobs?!), coconut, walnuts and chocolate with peanut or mint variations.  I  hope these are sold in lots of places so I can try them – if this is more of a home baking thing, I will need to find someone to bake for me 🙂
  • Game Meat – pretty excited about tasting Reindeer – sorry Rudolph, but thats just how it is
  • Kraft Dinner – I love Macaroni Cheese, so I cannot wait to try this bad boy
  • Montreal Smoked Meat – I havent had a great deal of experience of smoked meat other than bacon, and prefer unsmoked.  I do, however, love a spot of Applewood smoked cheddar, so am up for seeing what the fuss is about with smoked meat
  • Cod Tongue – this seems to be a Newfoundland thing.  I wont be trying it.  I dont like fish, let alone want to try its tongue.  Actually, whilst writing this, I thought do fish even have tongues?  Just looked it up and it is not tongue, it is in fact a bit of flesh from their throat.  Still not trying it
  • Sugar Pie – this seems right up my street.  Also known as Tarte Au Sucre, it is found in Quebec and is a dessert made from a flour pie crust filled with cream, butter and maple syrup.  O.M.G.
  • Sushi Pizza – another one I wont be trying.  I dont like sushi and think pizzas are perfectly fine in their traditional format, just thought this was worth a mention
  • Girl Guide Cookies – we have all seen them on TV, but what is so special about these cookies?  I remember Monica being addicted to these on Friends, looking forward to trying them, though I share the former overweight status with Monica, so addiction is a definiate concern
  • Rappie Pie – a traditional dish made from shredded potatoes with meat and onions.  I love potatoes.
  • Prince Edward Island Potatoes – see previous post.  I have eaten a lot in my life and am looking forward to trying these potatoes that seem to be considered top notch, not just in Canada, but accross the world
  • Poutine – one of my favourites so far, however, it is a favourite in England as well.  It is chips, cheese and gravy.  I eat this often.  I love it.  I am almost disappointed to discover this Poutine people speak of is fairly common in the UK, espeically with the Nothern folk.  I like where the word comes from though – a variation of other words that mean hodgepodge, mixture of various things or bad stew
  • Speculoos – cant wait for this one.  You know the caramelised biscuits you often get on the saucer when you buy a posh coffee?  It is a spread made from them!  A peanut butter alternative. I LOVE peanut butter, but cant wait to see what this has to offer
  • Jellied Moose Nose – errrr…. what?!

I also kind of like the idea of have a cheesy fondue in the snow, so that should definitely be a goal of mine – not included with a bullet point as it didnt come up in any of my research as much of a ‘thing’ in Canada.  Basically, my conclusion is that I will need a supersize seat for my flight home!!!!

What is this?  HelpX or POF?

Following my exciting booking of the flight on Saturday, I have thrown myself full steam ahead into booking and organising (if possible even more than I already was!).  Yesterday I emailed my first host on the HelpX website (more info about HelpX later).  It was an easy choice as they were the farm that I kept going back to and instinctively feel are the right ones for me.  Writing to them was nerve wracking – I had no idea what to say and went with what seemed like an incredibly cheesy message about how I liked their profile and that this is the first time I have done this.  This is where things began to feel like Plenty Of Fish.  I was nervous about what to say, kept reading and rereading my message and as soon as I pressed send, I felt excitement with a large side helping of nerves.  The anticipation and desire for a response is something I can only describe as similar to online dating!  I had a quick reply saying that they would look at my profile and get back to me.  A few hours later, I had an email saying they would love to host me, can pick me up from the airport and just need copies of some insurance type documents.  I felt butterflies and excitement in my stomach when I got the reply.  They sound soooo lovely and I hope that my expectations are not too high – I cannot wait to get there!

Insurance – I got my insurance today.  This seems to be a minefield and I had previously got quotes from what seemed like an endless stream of different companies.  How much luggage cover do I need? What activities will I be doing?  How much am I prepared to pay?  I eventually settled on a policy with Holiday Safe.  There are so many options to consider with each company.  I went with the Worldwide Long Stay option – this gives me £1,000 baggage cover, £500 electronics cover, working holiday, volunteering and medical emergency cover (plus lots of other boring stuff that seemed necessary!).  I added on the Level 3 Activity Cover – this seems to cover me for all sorts of weird and wonderful things that I have never even considered doing, but it is great to know I am covered if I want to!  So, for £282, I seem to be covered for everything EXCEPT competitve or contact sport, undergound work or two storeys above ground or heavy (25kg) lifting work.  Oh, and I also declared my ITBS which didnt add any extra costs! Win.

HelpX – Given that my primary reason for visiting Canada if I dont get an IEC Visa will be to be a tourist, as I understand it, I can volunteer as a secondary activity for up to four weeks per placement.  This is as long as the placement is not making profit from my work there.  This work can be in return for bed and board, so I should be okay for a while with no income with my spending money saved before I go, as long as I save enough money to buy a flight back out of Canada for when the time comes.  Wow, writing that, I already feel sad about leaving and I havent even left yet!!

I think that this is definitely enough excitement for one night!  Just need to wait for payday to give some of my money to people for boring stuff that I have to do to rent out my house.  Researching Canada stuff is much more fun…..!

One way ticket to Canada please

I DID IT!  Today, I booked my flight to Canada.  I am terribly excited and just have to wait a few months.  

Did I somehow get a working holiday IEC visa I hear you ask?  No.  So, if I dont manage to get my visa when they are released, I hope to fly to Canada, enter as a tourist, maybe do some wwoofing (volunteer work on a farm in return for food and accomodation) for a couple of months and then fly to New Zealand for a working holiday (if they will have me!).  If I get my IEC in the meantime, happy days.

Now that it is definitely happening and I am going to Canada in some sort of unknown capacity at this point – I feel so much more settled.  I am getting on the plane and that is it!

I have booked to fly with Air Transat.  I read a blog recently reviewing different airlines and found it really useful listing the pros and cons, the seating and the luggage.  I booked with STA Travel who were really helpful and am now also sorted out with a travel cashcard – this means I can pay with a card in Canada or New Zealand without extra charges, and can transfer money onto it without paying.  The downside is paying £2.25 to withdraw cash, but I think the good definitely outweighs this.  Anyway, back to the flight, it was £350 and I need to pay a bit extra to upgrade so I get extra baggage – I will ring and do this tomorrow but do not anticipate it being more than an extra £50 or £60.  I hand in mind £400 so I am happy with this.  I’M GOING TO CANADA!

I redid my nails tonight in celebration of the booking of the flight and now have a classic french manicure with a maple leaf on one nail!  

UPDATE to Cliched blog about gym, motivation and weight loss before Canada

Since 4th January, I have hammered the gym, addressed my, quite frankly astounding, daily calorie intake and adjusted to a sensible intake.  I would like to report that moving more and and eating less hasnt worked – well actually, it has, but not quite to the extent I had hoped.  I have lost three pounds.  I realise that it is silly to be disappointed about this as it is still three pounds in the right direction – but as I stepped on the scales today, I had hoped deep down for nearer to 5 in total.  Actually, as I am writing this, I am not sure what I am disappointed about really, 3 pounds is great!

What I wanted to do at the time?  Go home, mope, binge, moan.  What I did?  4 miles on the treadmill followed by some weights.  I then went to Weight Watchers.  I havent been for a while and it was really lovely to have a welcoming and friendly reception.  Thank goodness for Gold membership so I can come and go as I pleased when I need a push to get back on the motivation wagon.

This week, it was announced that the working holiday visas for Canada are not going to be released this month.  It now says mid February at the earliest.  I am looking into other options, but still have faith in the Canadian dream.

I feel like I havent said a lot here on interest, but actually feel less disappinted about the 3 pounds already because although this week was only half a pound, 3 in total is good.  I have signed up for a night run in a couple of weeks, so that should keep me going – I should probably practice running with a head torch in preparation!  And the IEC delay, I have other options and just need to be a bit more versatile with my plans.  In fact, for someone who is a definite planner and, okay I hold my hands up, can be a bit rigid at times, it is probably good for me to learn to be a bit more adaptable. Maybe.

Onwards and upwards.  

To do –

  • Continue to hammer gym
  • Explore other Canada and Working Holiday options
  • Attend and complete night run in February

What cliched January blog is complete without a cheesy motivational picture…..?

Complaining about the cold, yet I want to move to Canada?!

Well this morning I woke up freezing cold, the hot water bottle was luke warm and the cat was wedged in a position meaning he could get heat from both the hot water bottle and my body.  Neither of us wanted to move.  Unfortunately, I had work and he was able to laze in bed for the day.  Not about to be beaten, I layered up, knee high socks, two vests, a long sleeve top, a tshirt, a hoody, scarf, thick coat and gloves (kindly knitted for me by a friend from work which makes them extra special, Thanks our Trace).  By this point, I was barely able to bend my arm to de-ice the car.  I skidded my way accross the moors to work, slid over the paths on foot to the office and proceeded to spend the day complaining about the cold.  AND I WANT TO MOVE TO CANADA FOR A YEAR?! I have no idea how I will manage this!!  There is only one person who can really sum up how I have felt today….. how many of you fellow Big Brother addicts remember this….. 

“I’m so COOOOOOOOOOOOOOLD” – Nikki Grahame 2008

What not to use as a search tag on WordPress…. *written with a red face*

This is a quick one, it comes with a high level of redness in the face and mortification.  If you have read any of my previous posts, you may have seen that I have developed a fascination with bears.  I have been reading up on them and hope to see some on my travels in Canada.  With this in mind, I thought I would search the WordPress app for blogs with the tag ‘bear’.  Just an FYI – dont search for the tag ‘bear’ unless you want your screen to fill with photos of naked hairy men.  Am I being a bit of a British prude over this?  Maybe.  But I cant unsee what I have seen.  I just wanted to see some pictures of and read some blogs about grizzlies!  Is that so much to ask?

Farm girl moments

What does a Farm Girl from Devon do whilst waiting for the Canada Working Holiday places to become available?  Today, I have been spending time with my crew on the farm.  Much as I am ridiculously excited about going to the other side of the world for a year, there are so many things I will miss.  Today I lay in the lovely smelling hay in the cow shed patting and chattering away to the gang, soon joined by George (the springer), it was one of those blissful moments where you just lie back and wish you could stay there forever.  Then later, walking up through the fields and standing at a high point looking down over the surrounding countryside wrapped up in warm layers shaking a bucket of sheep nuts waiting for Shirley and friends to come running down bah-ing.  There are so many things that I will miss from home if my big adventure comes off, but some many new memories and moments that I cant wait to experience.

Plan B – New Zealand.  12 Things to do.

Since deciding to go to Canada for a Working Holiday, I have always known in the back of my mind that there is a chance I may not get in.  I therefore needed to have a back up plan.  As time goes on and the applications are not open, I am trying to get more enthusiasm to go elsewhere in case I need to revert to Plan B.   Part of enthusiasm building is researching things I might like to do.  I thought I would share my findings.  There is nowhere near as much as my Canada list, but it is a good start (Canada list coming soon, but it is a work in progress).

  1. Ziplining – Rotoura Forest
  2. Hot pools/ Spas
  3. Climb a volcano
  4. Try out the boiling mud pools
  5. Waiohine Gorge suspension bridge
  6. Whale watching
  7. Swim with seals and visit seal colony
  8. Swim with dolphins
  9. Visit the Glow Worm Caves
  10. Visit the Franz Josef Glacier for a Glacial terrain walk
  11. Visit Barrytown and do some knife making
  12. Go to a Maori concert

What did I miss?  I am sure there are lots of wonderful experiences unique to New Zealand, but this is what I have found so far.  Any suggestions are welcomed and I am sure others (and me of course!) may like to read them in the comments….

The inner turmoil of the waiting game

I have almost reached breaking point.  I have come to the eventual conclusion that the reason for the long wait to apply for the IEC working holiday in Canada is to test your patience, endurance and how much you want it.  Some will inevitably drop out and decide to go elsewhere, some will actually lose the plot.  Why will they lose the plot?  Well, if anyone else is like me, I am not sleeping, I am grouchy, irritable, snappish, anxious, frustrated.  Give it 5 minutes though and I stop thinking about waiting for applications to open and become excited, nervous, impatient and twitchy (in a good way).  

If I get sectioned because of my behaviour in the run up, will someone still put my application in for me?? 

One of the things that keeps me going is speaking to the really lovely people on the facebook forums and on blogs.  It is so nice to have people to chat to that know how this feels and that share some similar dreams and aspirations.  We could all be eyeing each other up as the competition for the quota spaces, but instead we are looking out for each other and sharing stories, goals and anxieties.  

I think it may be time to check the site to see if there are any announcements of opening dates again, it has definitely been at least 15 minutes since I last checked….

Retail therapy to take the edge off the IEC waiting game

What is the best thing to do with ones time when anxious, frustrated and stressed?  ‘Shop” I hear you say.  That is exactly what I have been doing to help manage the frustrations that go with being the idiot that wants to go to Canada.  I say idiot because I am now convinced that any normal person, upon discovering that drama that is the application/ IEC process, would pick another country and be on their merry way.  I am trying so hard to want to go elsewhere and to find things in New Zealand that appeal to me, but so far, it is not working.  What did work temporarily in relieving my mind from this drama is a spot of online shopping.  This weekend I have become the proud owner of some new items.  Im not sure that shopping is the best idea when I am supposed to be saving for the Canada dream, but here goes….

Happy Socks – I walked past a stand selling Happy Socks in John Lewis in November.  They really are the happiest socks I have ever seen.  I had some fantastic knee high polka dots for christmas that I am also in love with, but still had a desire for these ridiculously expensive, very happy socks.  “SALE” – the word that made me happier than the sight of the afore mentioned socks!  I now have 5 pairs, they are too special for me to wear and are still in their box looking Happy.

Digital luggage scales – a practical purchase for the Canadian dream.  I have the scales, I have the luggage, GET ME A VISA!

Toronto guide book – I have the scales, I have the luggage, I have the guide book, GET ME A VISA!  (I must note here that whilst this guide book is very thorough, it provides little joy as a pre read as it is lists of places with addresses in catagories in order of ranking, there are no pictures or actual explanations, not what I thought when I gave them my £12.89 – I do like a good picture)

I also went a bit wild and bought a compact towel that I can take with me if I cant fit a normal one in, a random book of poems that I love and a new shellac colour.  Does life get any more exciting?