What is left of Home as I know it?

Much as the thought of leaving Canada horrifies me right now, I do sometimes think about living in England again one day. Who knows where I will end up?  The thing that has occured to me though is that there isnt actually a home as I know it to return to.  In a way, I suppose I thought that it would be like pausing England.  

With work, so many people have moved on, I dont know most of the newbies.  I do have some friends left there, but will the jail even be there when I go back for a visit? Let alone if / when I move back to England.

With friends, there have been break ups and marriages, in fact, the same with family.  I guess the next thing will be more babies and finalised divorces. 

Highfield, a friend has moved on to the street and Mr Jinx now calls a different house home.  

The farm has no sheep and the good cows have gone. From the pictures sent by sibling today, the roasts still look deliciously the same.  Mylo has grown from the pictures and videos and has probably become a farm cat.  She used to talk to me, I wander if she still remembers my voice?

The other weird thing is that people are starting to look different in pictures now – they are aging.  It sounds soon to say, but I am noticing that people look older and are all crossing over from the 20s and settling in to 30s.  It is really strange to notice, after all it has only been six months.

Sibling has a house that I havent seen since before they had the keys.  When I next see her, she could well also have a fiance.  Best friend from primary school also has a house that I have never seen.  I suspect it wont be long before she has a baby as well.  If she read this, she would hit me.  Actually hit me.

I still speak to everyone at home lots, but the talk is becoming a bit less frequent.  The times that I realise I have missed a part of a story or someones life are more often as we dont see each other everyday to share every little detail.  There is no lunchtime silliness lying giggling on the floor of the office, giggling on the floor at pole, giggling on the floor at the gym or in the sauna/ jacuzzi.  Why have I spent so much time giggling on various floors?!  I also kind of miss Saturday night bickering over whether to go to Oceana, Flares or Revs, inevitably ending in a Union Rooms compromise, providing cheap enough wine to end the night in Two Trees.  Speaking of Two Trees, is it weird to want to hear a Janner accent from time to time?

Looking back at this, I feel happy nostalgia, then I think about going home, then I feel panic at leaving here! Despite all the fun memories, I have also made so many here.  Exploring the sights, giggling over photo taking, feeling at home in the bar, showing people around The Beaches proudly, the excitement of meeting new friends and a little bit of nervousness whilst I hold back and see how unPC I can get away with being!  I have loved meeting random people I wouldnt normally have met and greeting new friends like old friends.  I feel like I have been here for years, and I feel like I have known some of these friends just as long.   

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Autumn (Fall) changes

After a day spent mostly stuck in the inefficient street car diversion/ replacement bus system yesterday, today I decided to stay local.  I went for a nice Sunday walk at Glen Manor Ravine, down to Queen Street East, through Kew Gardens and along the Boardwalk.  The leaves have changed colours and the scenery was lovely.  A perfect Sunday afternoon stroll. 

  It has changed so much in the past month since I went there with Dad.

 After coming home, I text my lovely neighbour and off we went for warm beverage and a chocolate brownie at the Bean, followed by another stroll along the Boardwalk and skimming stones in the lake.

The beach now has a fence up so dogs can be off leash south of the fence from November and apparently it is also to stop snow blowing on to the Boardwalk.  The size of the fence has reignited my excitment for the volume of snow I am hoping for.  It is cold enough some mornings for a frost and I love the crisp fresh air that is becoming more frequent.  It is such a cosy and happy feeling when you walk around all wrapped up and then come into the warm. 

Anyway, as Sundays go, I think I did pretty well with this one.   

   

 

 

Things to Do: A review of my To Do list, with some new adventures added

I thought with my recent thoughts around reviewing where I am at, it would be a good time to also review my to do list.  I had a list called ‘Things to do in Toronto’  (original post here) that was actually more of a things to do in and around Canada and a food to do list as well (original post here).

So, left to do on my food list…. not much… reindeer, sugar pie, rappie pie and Prince Edward Island potatoes.  The sugar pie is one for when I get to Montreal and the potato based ones are for further East, so I just need to find somewhere in The Beaches/ Toronto that I can buy some Rudolph to eat.

What is left on the tourist list… a lot more and I have some new things to add….

TORONTO and surrounding area

  • Mick and Angelos – Man Vs Food place near Niagara Falls
  • CN Tower – edge walk  (second tallest tower in the world at 553.33m high)
  • O’Noir Restaurant
  • Algonquin Provincial Park – canoeing, dog sledding, log cabins
  • Haliburton Forest – walk in the clouds canopy tour
  • Santas Village  NEW
  • Screaming Heads, Burks Falls  NEW
  • Hamilton trails and waterfalls  NEW

MONTREAL

EVENTS

  • Shrine Circus
  • The Expat Show at Bad Dog Theatre – 3rd Monday of the month
  • There are also quite a few runs that I would like to do… gotta get at least one Canadian medal on my travels

OTHER PLACES TO VISIT

  • New York – Everything
  • Chicago   NEW  – Millennium Park, 360 Tower, Willis Tower, Shedd Aquarium?
  • San Francisco – Alcatraz   NEW
  • Newfoundland – Icebergs and whales
  • Nova Scotia – Titanic Maritime Museum and Cabot Trail
  • British Columbia
  • Ottawa – Skate on Rideau Canal, Hostel that used to be a jail, Nordik Spa, Hogs Back Falls, Rideau Falls, Mounted Police place, Bate Island, Alexandra Bridge

OTHER/ MISC

  • See a beaver/ moose/ bear in the wild
  • Horse riding
  • Go to a Rodeo – maybe this one – Ultimate Rodeo Tour
  • Swim with Beluga Whales
  • Visit the Polar Bear reserve in Churchill, Manitoba and see the Northern Lights
  • See the house from Anne of Green Gables at Prince Edward Island
  • Stay in a cabin  NEW
  • Visit Manitoulin Island  NEW

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SNOW !

Today, I went with some of the Brits to Canadas Wonderland.  A big theme park similar to Alton Towers.  It is also where all the silliness with my ankle happened last time I visited – luckily this time was drama free.  The temperature has dropped again and we wrapped up warm in our layers and coats, scarfs, gloves and I got to wear my lovely new winter boots that I have been waiting to wear.  I wore the new boots walking around all day and my feet were warm and comfy the whole time. 

 Whilst we were there, it snowed!  So excited to see our first snow fall in Canada!  It was coming down thick and fast, though unfortunately not settling.  I felt so Christmasy, I had to come home and watch Elf!  I had a lovely day out and, despite the cold, felt warm and toasty with a wintery excitment.

 

Questions

Earlier this week, I had a friend staying.  As he is here on the same Visa, but using it very differently, it was interesting to chat about our different experiences.  Whilst I have  picked a place and settled with my vast amount of luggage, he is travelling around with a back pack.  Despite all the amazing things I have done, and people I have met, I couldnt help but feel a little jealous.  He has been to many places accross Canada and America.  I am definitely not jealous of the ridiculously small amount of luggage he has though.  I need the same for a weekend away!  I envy the different experiences and places, and not being tied to anywhere.  I think it is hard either way – I love that I have somewhere I can now call home, that I feel comfortable and settled, completely welcome and accepted.  I have thrown myself into the community and become a local.  On the other hand – there are so many places out there to visit and explore, so many new experiences and so much opportunity not to be tied down.  It had me asking myself if I have tied myself in too soon?  After all, how many chances in a lifetime do we get this opportunity?  

It has been time to have a review of why I came here, what I wanted and hoped to achieve and, actually, have my goals and expectations changed.  Part of my motivation for looking into something different to do with my life was not wanting to drift along for the next forty years with nothing much changing.  The thought of getting up and doing the 9-5 work thing forever is pretty depressing to me, regardless of where I am in the world.  Is there another way to live life?  Does it have to be the conventional work thing that we always grow up to see as the end goal?  Can I still have my film Happy Ever After without the mundaness (is that a word?) that working this way has to offer?  

What I do know is that Canada is a fantastic place to figure out the answers to these questions.  In the meantime, I will be making some plans for a few roadtrips.  Do I still want residency? The thought of not living in Canada makes me feel a bit panicky, so yes, that is still the goal. For now though, it is time to refocus on the travel part of this adventure, the serious bits and sensible decision making to make residency easier can come later.

Wanderlust: a strong desire for or impulse to wander or travel and explore the world.

  

Life

They, well many people, say you travel to find yourself.  I think that I have done a little bit of losing myself and am putting things right.  I never felt that finding myself was something I wanted or needed to do, though I suppose I knew I could do with becoming a bit more “go with the flow” at times.  I think I have definitely done that, I have gone with the flow and seen what happens with things.  In doing this, I have lost my motivation for some things I love, such as fitness and a lot of my clothes dont fit!  The gym has been such a big part of my life for so long –  I feel good for acknowledging how much this has affected my overall wellbeing and that I am getting back on track.  After a couple of months with this focus, I can hopefully get on with one of my fitness loves and be back on the pole – I look back at pictures and miss it so much, as well as my old pole buddies from home.

Reading this back, it does not sound as positive as I feel for this realisation!  I have had so much fun the past few months, but I have realised that not everyday can be rainbows and unicorns, and keeping up the things I love is what makes those “normal” days less mundane.   I am setting up some gym dates with new friends – the best and my favourite place to multitask…  

My first Thanksgiving

This weekend is a long one for Thanksgiving and I invited some of the Brits for dinner yesterday.  A Brit from Brighton, (who is here on same visa as me) that I met before leaving the UK has come to stay for a few days to see Toronto, so there were six of us for dinner. 

Having never cooked for this many people, or cooked roast potatoes or meat in a convector oven – I think we did a pretty good job.  We had turkey, veg including the traditional butternut squash, potatoes and delicious English Bisto.  For dessert, my friend brought a Pumpkin Pie which is the traditional Thanksgiving dessert, served with cream and ice cream.  It was nice, but a bit too cinnamoney for me.  It was like having Christmas on a random day that isnt Christmas! 

 After dinner, we played scatagories and engaged in banter and hamster watching.  Full and starting to get sluggish, we went for a walk on the beach in the hope of a beach sunset.    It was strange going outside as I expected it to be like Christmas, bumping into odd people to trade festive pleasantries and see kids out with their new bikes and toys.   

 The sunset was not to be as the sun was not setting on the beach, but we managed to see it setting over the Toronto skyline near Woodbine.  It was a lovely end to the day sitting at the top of the grassy bank watching the end of the sunset, taking pictures and watching the boys rolling/ racing down the steep grass bank.   

 

Hamster babies 

When you buy a hamster and specifically ask if there is any chance she could be pregnant, the last thing you expect is to come home from a day out running errands 6 days later to find she has given birth to some naked alien looking babies.  
Now, for some reason, I had alarm bells going off and did do some googling about the signs of pregnant hamsters. It was just a gut feeling. It said they nest and store food – hamsters do that anyway, gain weight – she is only four months old, so I put it down to growing up and that they are aggressive before and after birthing – she wasnt then and isnt now. Anyway, I went to the shop to buy her some new toys and treats on Saturday, came home to put them in and she had given birth to at least six babies!   

Very cute and exciting! Mother and babies all well so far!  

 

Plane tickets: New York

I have always wanted to go to New York, in particular at Christmas to see the tree and the ice rink.  It occured to me last week that if I dont book for this year, I will have to wait until 2016.  Not one for patience, I am now the proud owner of a return flight to New York in December.  

Whilst I love that I am feeling relatively settled and sorted given my short time here, I have been thinking that I also dont want to lose focus on all the amazing adventures that are at my fingertips.  It would be so easy to keep putting things off and be of the attitude that I can do it anytime, but that is how I have managed to not see so many things that Plymouth and England have to offer and I dont want to miss a thing while I’m here. 

Goodlife v Nuffield

There is something a little special about Nuffield, Plymouth and I was terribly sad to say goodbye to it.  There have been ups and downs – the excessive amount of children and the time they stopped putting fresh flowers in reception, oh and when they stopped giving us towels.  We all love a good moan in the sauna or jacuzzi, but those who leave seem to come back, apart from those of us who have to try and replace it.  I know, it is “just a gym”, but I have spent so many hours of my life and met some great friends there, it is so much more fun than just being a gym!  It isnt every gym that you can sit around enjoying lattes after circuits, go to Nandos with the girls after classes and find trainers that know you well enough to really push your motivation buttons – nice encouragement will not work for this cake lover!

Given how much fun I have had over the years with the Nuffield lot, I have obviously had some concerns about finding a new gym.

I have finally joined one – Goodlife.  Same classes – Les Mills of course, same machines which is nice and familiar, about the same price – though this gives me access to any Goodlife so I can pop in to other locations if I want a pool which mine does not have.  It even has a juice bar, so hopefully I will make some friends and there is somewhere to sit together.  This said, I havent actually managed to speak to anyone yet.  It is early days, though and I am optimistic that I will soon be sat in the Sauna putting the world to rights and sharing dating dramas.  Aside from positive comparisons already noted, they gave me a bag, a tshirt and a water bottle – who doesnt love a freebie?!

Will it live up to the high standards I need?  Watch this space….. So far though, it feels so good to be back in a gym!  This eating merry-go-round had to end somewhere and I am now back in the game!