“What do you miss?”

People sometimes ask me what I miss about home.  I have to say, I am still definitely in the honeymoon period with Canada and therefore, there isnt a great deal!  I am sure as time goes on, there will be some tough days.  Luckily, Dad will be arriving in 10 sleeps with essentials – the deodorant I like, my favourite cuppa soups, paracetamol etc.  In time, I will find Canadian equivalents, but I am gladly taking this opportunity to fill Dads luggage with some home comforts.

Other things I miss….  

  • Baking potatoes in the Aga
  • Roast dinners
  • Meals that come with veg, not salad
  • Sweet chilli Philadelphia
  • Boots and Superdrug!
  • Milk in plastic cartons with a lid – these silly cardboard creations or milk in bags mean you cant take it anywhere when it is open
  • Driving – only since working and I guess Ill miss this moreso as it gets colder
  • MR JINX

It goes without saying that there are friends and family I miss.  I am also realising who is important to me and who I just dont miss or have any desire to communicate with.  Not all of these are the people I expected them to be.  It is hard to stay in contact with everyone though and I hope that, just because I am not in touch all the time, people know I am still stalking them on Facebook to keep up with goings ons. 

The last couple of weeks have been hard when two close friends have been through break ups and I am not there for them.  Yes, I am on the end of a phone and Facebook and email, but it isnt the same as turning up with wine/ chocolate/ flowers/ hugs/ tissues.  I feel devastated for a friend who has been married for years, so cross and angry for her and just so sad that I cant go over there.  It is also hard for someone that has always loved a happy ending as much as I do to see two people that I thought would be together forever going through this.  The only good thing is that she is such a determined, ambitious and strong person, alongside being an amazing mum – I know she will be okay.  Turning 30 seems to be a curse to marriage.  This is the third friend to go through it.  

What else have I missed?  My cousins wedding, my bosses wedding, one 30th birthday and a few other birthdays, one baby being born and one I didnt get to meet before I left, my sister and her boyfriend getting the keys to their first house, my friend buying her first house on her own (in my street, that would be a hoot if I was there), mum having an operation, the cows being born and dads new shed! 

I love seeing all the pictures of these events and following them on Facebook and will see the houses, meet the babies and raise some glasses for all the other stuff when I visit the motherland.  Until then, I have a country to explore and an alternative life to build. 

 

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Last weeks news – Brits, bands, bikes and a gnome called David

Obviously, since being offered the job that I start On Wednesday, I have been offered another!  Like they say about buses and men, none for ages, then a few come along at once!  Sticking with the one I start on Wednesday as it has better longer term positives.

What else have I been up to other than the job hunting?  Well I went out for another big Brit drinks meet up which was good fun.  It is hard with big groups of new people as you cant speak to everyone and there are often people I really want to chat to more but the situation just doesnt allow it.  A few of the original Brits also went for a curry last week.  Tasty food, good value, but rubbish service.  Nice to go out and eat with friends though. 

On Wednesday night, I went Downtown to see my friends band, Eclecticus, play at the Horseshoe Tavern.  Nice little bar that had a bit of an English pub feel – think Skiving Scholar if you are from Plymouth! Or maybe the Cooperage back in the day!  There was a hole in the wall where you could order fast food from the take away next door! Immense! Good night, but not a late one for me given the 6am boot camp to be taught the next morning.  

  Last week was a busy one and I also went for a pole open practice at a different studio from before – Brass Vixens which is in Downtown Toronto.  It was great fun being back at pole and their Yonge Street studio is really nice – lovely staff and other students were really welcoming. It is a shame that it is so far as it is not practical for me to get there regularly now I have a job, but good to know I can go there for practice if I am in the area. 

  
 

I have spent a lot of time sorting out my garden over the last few weeks and got a hammock and gnome.    
 

Most excitingly, I also got a bike this week to ride up and the road where I live.  Got lights, a little basket for the front, matching hat and a bell as well!    

 

Employment

After months of searching, I have been offered a job.  I have had 4 interviews this past week in different fields of work.  I have been ambivalent about whether I wanted a part time job or full time and whether I wanted to work in my career field of addictions or try something else.  One interview was for an addictions counselling job with a company that is worldwide.  The interview went really well and it was nice to come out feeling that I knew what I was talking about.  This is a good thing having been doing it for ten years!  It was also nice to feel the familiarity given that the last few months have been filled with newness.

I start the job next week.  I have mixed feelings about it.  I am really pleased to have a job, a job means a steady income, a routine, joining a gym and I need it for a health card and residency.  It will also help keep my brain cells alive.  The job itself will be delivering groups which is what I most enjoy.  On the other hand, I suddenly feel like there is so much I still want to do before I start work full time.  I also feel anxious that whilst Canadians seem to have an overall better quality of life and enjoyment, they only get an average of two weeks annual leave a year.  After five weeks annual leave in England, I feel a bit trapped.  Aside from this, the hours are good, the pay is what I wanted and the people I met seem friendly.  They also allowed me to have time off when Dad comes to visit which was really important to me.

I am still teaching boot camps for another couple of weeks until they finish for the winter as it is pretty dark still at 6am now.  I am also teaching some other extra classes along the way.  

My A-Z of Happiness

I recently read a short e-book by one of my favourite authors, Jill Mansell – The A-Z of Happiness. It made me want to write my own, so this evening I have. I have to say, it was much harder than I thought it would be to decide on certain letters, but here it is…
A – Animals. I love to be around animals – having my own pets or visiting other people only to ignore them and play with their pets instead. My friends from the animal kingdom must be furry or feathered, reptiles need not apply.

B – Beach. Until recently, I only liked the beach in the winter – wrapping up warm and going for long walks along the coastal path at Wembury. Since coming to Canada, I have found a love for the beach during the days when it is quiet, or in the evenings with a book just listening to the sound of the waves.

C – Canada. Still being relatively new in the Country, Canada and I are still in our honeymoon period. I love everything about it! The people, the landscape and sights and the overall lifestyle.

D – Diet Coke. Everyone who knows me will know I have a hopeless addiction to Diet Coke. I am powerless over this addiction and have accepted this fact.

E – Envelopes. Handwritten envelopes. I was thinking about things that make me happy and receiving handwritten letters are one of them. In a world of countless methods of communication, most of which are technology based, there is something much nicer about getting a handwritten letter.

F – I really struggled with F.  I thought it was cheating to have more than one, but then I decided that it is my A-Z of Happiness and I can choose whatever makes me happy.  So I chose…

       Food.  I love food.  I might be a fussy eater, but there is always something to munch on.  With a particularly sweet tooth, it is usually sweets, chocolate or hot chocolate!  

       Fitness.  Fitness began as a way to balance out the afore mentioned food problem.  I soon found that I do actually love it.  I hate it sit ups, does anyone love abs stuff?!  Other than that, circuits, kettlebells, running, weights, pole dancing, line dancing, aerial yoga, trapeze… I have tried all sorts of weird and wonderful things and love them all!

     Friends and Family.  I particularly enjoy it when I can mix the Fs together, so friends or family with food or fitness makes me extra happy.  Do I need to say anymore about friends and family?  Its kind of self explanatory when you have a good bunch.

       Farm.  I love the farm.  The farm is home.  I love everything about it – my bed in my childhood room, the smell of fresh cut hay in the summer, riding around on the quad bike or the tractor, taking Folly for a walk, training the sheep (remembering good old Larry), feeding the cows, finding the cats sleeping in the hay, running around barefoot, making dens and mud pies!

       Fairytales.  Fairytales comes with Happy Ever Afters.  I have had my ups and downs over the years, but hold out for the fairytale ending.  I think I have proven I can be independent, blah blah blah, but deep down, I just want to be looked after and have the fairytale.  

G – Grass. Freshly cut grass smells amazing.

H – Hotels. I toyed with home, but covered this with F. I love staying in hotels. Not having to clean up after myself, really comfy beds, room service, on site gyms, saunas and jacuzzis. 

I – Inappropriate jokes.  Everyone loves a joke that may or may not have crossed some sort of line dont they?  Luckily my inappropriate friends share an, at times, ok often, inappropriate sense of humour and can share in the hysterics.  I love to see a good comedian and I think my enjoyment of seeing Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle fits nicely here.

J – Jinx. Mr Jinx obviously had to have his own letter. Having him cuddle up to me when he knows I am sad, the angry look he gives me if he is out in the rain, standing in the bath miaowing angrily until I run the tap for him to drink from, sharing squirty cream, sitting by the bath when I am in it and cuddling up on the bed at night, under the covers if it is cold. I am his human and have been trained well to do as I am told!

K – Kooky socks. I love having random socks, brightly cloured with different patterns. I cant stop myself from buying them wherever I see them, though I do seem to wear them out weirdly quickly, so I can never have too many!

L – Love.  This kind of goes with the fairytale F.  It can also be used with all other Fs – I love family, friends, fitness, the farm and fairytale endings.

M – Moors. The Moors is one of my favourite places to be. For years, I have been going up on the moors – usually on a quad bike or a horse. Whether galloping across the moors with the wind bringing tears to my eyes or slowly plodding along in the sun, the moors will always be one of my favourite places.

N – Netflix. Hours of entertainment. Netflix supports my habit of binge watching trashy shows. There is always something to watch or re-watch – Dexter and Prison Break being my top 2.

O – Offenders. I love working with Offenders and have been doing so for some years career wise. I also have find prisons interesting in my personal life and love to visit them. Never usually finding museums particularly interesting, the exception is prison museums.  

P – Plymouth. Plymouth has everything you need. You dont ever need to go anywhere else, unless you want to because you have never lived anywhere else! It has the moors, the coasts and beaches, the hoe, a shopping centre and it is easy to get to other places with our very own A38.  

Q – Quizzes. I must confess, I had to cheat and google words beginning with Q. I do genuinely love a quiz though and am always being suckered into filling in the silly Facebook ones. If the answer is one I like, I nod happily and share. If I dont like it, I think to myself how these quizzes are never accurate anyway! I have never done a pub quiz, but have always wanted to go to one.

R – Running. I love running. Not always before I go, but I love to run with people or on my own. It is such a feeling of satisfaction afterwards and I love the feeling of achievement entering races and getting medals. I never need to win, just to finish. Oh, and not come last of course!

S – Snow. Who doesnt love snow? Ask me this after my first Winter in Canada! As it stands, I love looking out of the window at the snow, going out to walk in it and drinking lots of hot chocolate to walk up. I love the crunch of it under my feet, the soft powdery stuff and my cold breath in the air. I am told that Canadian animals have to wear boots to keep their feet warm – cant wait to see this!

T – Tractors. Growing up on a farm, I always loved riding around in the tractor. It doesnt matter where the journey is, I like to sit in the little seat go for the ride. It is also fun riding in the trailer on the back of the Tractor! Or, on a very rare occasion, getting to drive it, though I prefer to be a passenger.

U – Unicorns and Rainbows These always come with happy thoughts.

V – Ventures. I wanted to have projects, but P was already taken. I used a thesaurus and it gave me Ventures instead. I love to have a project or a venture on the go and consider myself super organised and efficient when throwing myself into something new that I am excited about it. Can I add list making in with this one?

W – Walking. I love going for long walks, the moors, coastal paths, woods, Burrator.

X – Xmas. C was already taken, so I put this one in X. I love Christmas. I love making cards, the snow, wrapping presents, shopping for presents, the smell of a real tree, decorating the tree, tree chocolates, extra days off work, board games, log fires, the smell of chestnuts roasting, tins of chocolates, curling ribbon, stockings, seeing someone happy face when they open something you know they will love, christmas songs and markets.

Y – Why do I have to have a Y?  I feel a bit ‘meh’ about Y words.  I like a yawn at bedtime with a good stretch.  Thats the best I have for Y.

Z – Zzz. Sleep. Being tired at the end of a day and getting into a freshly made bed, or waking up in the morning feeling cosy and realising you can go back to sleep.

  

A house in a tree, where fairies live

I have had some really nice days this week.  I particularly enjoyed Saturday.  I taught a Body Blast class at 9am – I love how motivated everyone is and how hard they work!  I couldnt do a press up on my toes when I got here – I know, I teach the classes and most of the ladies I teach can, but I cant!  I am pleased to say, that I can now almost do one.  When I started, my Fearless Fitness mission was to be able to do them and I am so close!  Last week, I bought some kettlebells on Kijiji (Canadas version of Gumtree) and couldnt use them as my old whiplash injury was playing up.  On Saturday, feeling much better, I did 20 minutes of kettlebells and then went out for a little trot along the boardwalk.  The ankle is happier and I just ran a nice gentle mile gradually building it back up.  A great start to the day!  I feel like my injuries are letting the fitness me emerge in its Canada form.  I thought I would be productive and go to the library after this, however, my brain wasnt in it.  I found some kettlebell instructor courses that I hope to sign up for and wandered off to sit in the park.   
 

I went to Kew Gardens for the first time and just sat on the grass amongst the trees.  It was so nice in the sunshine, but not too hot.  There were a ridiculous amount of black squirrels and one was so friendly sharing my cookie and taking bits from my hand.  Then some birds came and took crumbs.  It was like a fairy tale!  Or maybe like the bird lady on Mary Poppins!  “Feed the birds, tuppence a bag”.  Okay, so I was happy and the animals were happy, but I probably looked like a crazy person.  I then pottered off to find a tree I had seen on Facebook with a little door in it.  Just look at the pictures for the scene!  Canadians are adorable with these funny little things!  Inside the door were lots of little notes written by people (mainly children) about fairies. 

 Yesterday I went down to Woodbine Beach for a Brits meet up.  This was not the usual Brits, it was another one of the big random ones through Facebook.  The usual crowd were there as well of course.  This one was much more positive and I liked them much more than most of the last bunch.  Luckily, the odd ones from last time have not been heard from again (the nice ones are still on the scene).  The one weird thing was how many people came without towels or swimwear.  I was very confused and was the only one to flop out my towel and sunbathe, and then swim happily in the lake!  I was a bit skeptical about heading down to Woodbine Beach as I like the beach by my apartment.  This was a 20 min walk and  much bigger beach with lots and lots of people.  I still prefer my beach as it is quieter and smaller, but I had a lovely afternoon and met some nice new people.  We have plans to hang out in the board game cafe again later this week….  

  Yesterday evening, I went to try and get a photo of a raccoon in the garden.  It went up the steps onto the balcony thing, so I followed it.  I poked my head around the corner and it became less cute.  It bared its teeth and screeched at me.  I had to retreat quickly down the steps.  I didnt get the photo I wanted.  The steps are supposedly raccoon proofed – spikes on the hand rail and in random places on the steps, well the raccoon went up and down dodging the spikes with no problem and I nearly met my maker.  I am beginning to agree with the locals, these raccoons are highly intelligent creatures and I dont think people outside of Canada give them the credit they deserve.  Raccoon 1.  Caroline 0.

Today.  The rain came.  In standard Canadian weird weather style, it was still really warm which sends my brain into a state of confusion.  I want to put warm layers on as I am programmed to think that it will be cold with the rain.  Indoor plans were in place anyway and I hung out with the usuals for some gym time and natter.  Oh and I may have had a cheeky slice of pizza.  The ankle held out again and we smashed the gym.  Feeling good, the day was ended with malibu and chatter with the locals in the pub.

Tomorrow, there is boot camp.  Sleeping would be a more sensible use of my time when  have to get up in just over 5 hours, but I wanted to write an update whilst I am feeling so chipper.  

Selling my soul to the devil…

The price of my soul was $11 dollars per hour.

In the job hunt I have applied for anything and everything.  This was refined slightly after the temp job mail opening debacle and I thought I would apply for fundraising jobs this time.  So, you know the people that stand in the malls and try to force you to donate money to charities monthly?  Yup that’s it.  The application and interview process was great – really helpful and informative.  I thought, it might be hard to get sign ups but if I am working with a good group of people, it should be okay.   I left feeling positive and looking forward to learning my script for my assigned charity and getting started.

Now. I have to say at this point, I have always fundamentally disagreed with these people. I want to spend my day off enjoying my time shopping, not dodging these idiots that have an answer for every polite (or rude) excuse I give.  There is a section in my training manual on answers to these excuses/ legitimate reasons.  This said, I needed a job, and fast.

The training was ok.  A bit common sense, but whatever.  This is where the cracks started to appear.  The interviewer had told us at the group interview that we wouldn’t be working weekends and we filled in forms about our availability.  At the training, we were told it does include weekends and our hours available had not been communicated.  Not major dramas, but cracks nonetheless.

My shifts.  Instead of putting me at the mall an hour from me, I was put at the one two hours away.  They were great and changed this.  I was also able to swap a shift with a girl from training so it fitted better with boot camp.  My first day went well.  My supervisor was helpful and I was working with him and one of the girls I had met on training.  I felt okay about things as the people I was working with were not overkill on the selling and bugging people.  We were peaceful vultures!  This day went well.  I tried hard to sign people up, but no takers.

Shift two. This was a whole other story.  The girls I worked with were those hair flicking insincere vultures that harass you.  They flirted embarrassingly with the men, used phrases such as ‘will you be my friend?’ and ‘can we hang out?’ With strangers.  It was weird.  Their gushy and over enthusiastic style was cringeworthy and reminded how much I hate being on the other side.  I still tried hard to get people signed up and must have spoken to, or tried to speak to, hundreds of people.  My feet and body were aching from standing for hours.  On my break, a girl ventured from her beauty stall and tried to harass me into buying some moisturiser.  Trying to get away reminded me of the utter loathing I have for this process.  There has to be a better way to get money or sign people up surely?  Of the ppl that were signed up, 3 of 4 approached the stand and asked anyway, so none of the vulture tactics were deployed when it came to the sign up.

The dismissal.  At the end of my shift, the supervisor sat me down and said they had to let me go.  She said I had wasted the charities money working and gaining no sign ups.  Nice.  I explained that I was not intending to return after today anyway and thanked her for saving me the job of quitting.  I outlined my loathing for the harassment of innocent mall shoppers.  She disagreed that this is what was happening. I left.  

The one positive I can take from this is the chance to learn about one of Torontos favourite charities.  It is clear they do some amazing work and it is the city’s sweetheart charity.  It is a shame that my associations will always be tarred by this third party atrocity.  

I spent the day wanting to walk away and thinking just get through the day.  It goes to show with the different colleagues how different the approaches can be. My biggest regret is that I didn’t get to tell the stuck up cow to stick her job before getting sacked.

The End.

Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge

Last weekend, we stopped off briefly at Ferris Provincial Park in Campellford and took a stroll on the Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge.  Great views of Ranney Falls and a forest you can camp in.  There was a sign about bears which made me hopeful I might see one.  Unfortunately, it was not to be.  I definitely want to go back here when not just passing through and do a bit of trekking/ barbequeing.  The trees had massive holes made by woodpeckers and there are lots of proper walks with trees labelled etc.   

   

Where are all the old people?

The Beaches is a very strange but lovely little neighbourhood.  It is quiet, but friendly.  The beach isnt too busy.  It is safe and apparently has low crime rates. It has everything you need – shops, restaurants, bars, beach and gyms.  The people dont venture out of the area very often.  It is mostly white which is weird (even more than Plymouth). The houses are very expensive (though I dont know how it compares to Downtown).  People have lovely little verandahs to sit out on and there are dogs everywhere.  The people here remind me of offices the way they grumble (and even when Canadians grumble, it is friendly).  So, in offices, people always bicker over milk, fridges and (not sure if its just us HMPers…) the toilet.  In The Beaches, they love to complain about the dogs not being on leads (leashes), being ON the leads and pooing in public (the dogs, not the locals).   There are dogs of every breed, size and colour and they dont really match their owners very often.  They also like to debate whether it is called The Beach or The Beaches, in fact this seems to really divide them.  I think I alternate.  They love to help each other out on The Beaches (The Beach) Facebook group.  They reminisce over times when there businesses hadnt all had to move on because the rents got too high, they remember drinking at Fitzgeralds and they are determined not to drink at the new place that took over The Lake House.  Very loyal.  Though, I dont think this one stuck as the new place has cracking reviews!  They wear flip flops everywhere, except when engaging in sport.  Sports can be running – they love to run here, tennis on the courts, cycling, paddle boarding and all sorts more.  They seem very energetic.  Speaking of the water, they also seem to like debating whether you can swim in the lake, and if so when and what affects its cleanliness.  I often get a surprised “you swam in the lake?!” response when sharing my adventures.  Alongside this enjoyment of fitness, there is a community love of Eds.  THE best mint choc chip milkshake I have ever had.  Delicious.  Eds should be had daily for otimum enjoyment.  Overall, they seem like a particularly happy breed of Canadians out here.

Having made all of these observations about the locals, my only concern is that there dont seem to be many actual old people here.  The ones that wear cardigans and smell a bit of cabbage? Walking sticks and old age aids?  Blue rinses?  Comb overs? Liver spots? False teeth?  This occured to me the other day when I was puzzling over what was missing… I think I might miss them a bit.  Where are all the old people?!