Long weekend

This weekend is another long weekend. It is Victoria Day weekend in celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday on May 24th.  The Canadians call it ‘May two four weekend’.   I googled it and apparently it is because they also call a crate of 24 beers a two four and people are likely to drink more beer this weekend.  Anyway, it’s still odd that they don’t just call it 24 beers.

Long weekends in Canada cause the pubs and bars to be quieter as lots of people will go to their cottages for the weekends.  It is completely the opposite of home where long weekends involve the pubs being open longer hours and people drinking all day.  Who thought I would nostalgically picture the barbican crowded with people and police on a bank holiday Sunday?!

So far this weekend, I have made the most of the sunshine and spent most of it on the beach with friends.  We have been to the secret beach and taken our first full swims in the lake.  My friend from Manchester showed me what a fossil looks like and we ended up lying in the sun for hours getting burnt because we were looking for fossils!  I love the beach, but it is already so hot!  I am starting to have flashbacks to last summers brutal humidity and my difficulty to function.  For the first time since arriving in Canada, I am worried and hoping that the weather will not be a reason for me not to stay.  The weather during the last few days has been lovely, but much hotter and I might melt.  You hear of people deciding not to stay because it is too cold, do people go back to England because it is to hot?!  

I finished off the weekend with a lot more time on the beach, some new drinking spots, a random night out, building friendships and no time at the gym whatsoever. Today one of my beach buddies and I decided enough was enough and, after the thoroughly unhealthy long weekend, we headed out for a run alongside the water, after the beach of course.  

Today remains stiflingly hot.  The humidity this evening is out to destroy me.  The sand is too hot to walk on… The dogs keep getting stuck half way to the water because it is too hot for their paws, they lie down and wait for their owners to retrieve them.  It is only going to get hotter and my concerns continue, along with my rapidly developing tan.

House guests

This week, I have had a friend and her chihuahua staying with me whilst waiting to move in to their new apartment.  It has been so nice to open the door and have a pet greet me, to have someone excited to see me when I get home, to chat to and to sleep on the bed like a hot water bottle.  Today, I took him to the beach with me and we spent the day sunbathing and playing – I had to carry him home, he was so tired.  I just have to play the waiting game until Mr Jinx can join me here.  Having Berkley staying is a mixture of happy and sad feelings, missing what I left behind at home, but loving every minute of having him here to stay with me.

Moving house

After past mentions of an imminent move, it has happened.  I packed up my bags and moved a few doors down to my very own bachelor pad.  I got most things I need to get started from the dollar store and had accumulated a surprising amount anyway.  The new place needed painting as the previous occupants had chosen black paint for the walls?!  A friend from the pub gave me a futon she didnt need anymore, so I have that as a bed until I get a bed and some more furniture sorted.  I bought a rocking chair from kijiji as I want to make the little dining room off the kitchen into a cosy little reading nook.

Until more furniture happens, I have piles of belongings around the place, but at least it is just me and Mavis.  No queuing for the bathroom and I can decorate and accessorize how I choose.  I have started putting up my pictures and hung some of my treasured Christmas decorations up around the window.  The fridge is covered in magnets as per my obsession and it I know it will be lovely when it is finished.  I thought I would be sadder to leave the old place as I have been there for a year, but it has been okay.  I am not comfortable enough to have a bath in the new place yet, but that will come!  I will miss the jacuzzi bath I had before, and I fear that I will miss the air con when next month hits.

 

 

One year in Canada

Well, Sunday was the 1 year anniversary of arriving in Canada.  I can still remember the nerves and the feelings like it was yesterday, but yet it seems like so long ago – another world.  I do still have days where I think, thats it I am going home, but they are few and far between.  I am still a little unsure about which country to live in, I am still 90% sure I want it to be Canada.  I love so much about this country.  I will miss seeing family more often if I dont live in England.  I will miss seeing my nephew grow up.  On the other hand, they will all come and visit and I can visit home.  We can talk lots like we do now.  Mr Jinx will come and live here if I get residency.  The whole residency task seems like such a mission and such an expense, it is so daunting.  I am still choosing not to think about it until I have another social work job to get the rest of the work experience I need to apply.

So what have I done since being here….

  • Flown to the other side of the world on my own
  • Built a life in Toronto
  • Got my own apartment
  • Gained work experience
  • Made friends, some for life, some for now and some that either way, I will never forget
  • Missed having pets more than I thought possible
  • Been to the capital of Canada, Ottawa
  • Visited New York
  • Planned a trip to the East coast
  • I thought I hated watching sports, turns out I just hadnt seen the right ones
  • Realised that some of the friendships I most valued at home have not managed to last with an ocean between us, despite my best efforts

I am more resilient than I thought I would be.  I have done so much that I never thought I would be able to do a few years ago.  Things that would have terrified me before dont even phase me now.  It is as if a switch flipped in me when I decided to move here and I was suddenly not phased by things I have avoided for so long.  I have learned that the ability to do things on my own opens so many more opportunities, but also it can be frustrating when you need other people to do things and dont always have them.  I am still the same person I was when I left, I still have my own little ways and eccentricities and I dont think I will ever change them, I am happy as I am.

I am sure there is so much more that I have done, but for now, I have a Blue Jays game to watch! 


 

Cycling

Now the weather is nicer, I plan on cycling to work downtown.  Google tells me that it is 11km and the recreational trail goes all the way there from my house.  As I am not a strong cyclist, today I had a nice couple of hours in the sun and headed out for a little cycle.  I just did an 8km cycle to check the bike survived the winter, check out the trail and wake my body up after a couple of months of laziness.  It was glorious in the sunshine and I am looking forward to Monday when I will be working and can try the cycle.  

When the bestie came to town. Part 2.

The bestie may have now departed, but she left me with Magic Stars that I sit munching on.  Since the last update, there was my birthday and a trip to a cottage.  In between we took a trip to Toronto Islands, one of my favourite places to go in the city.  The place was starting to open up again after the winter.  Before the ferry was a much needed trip to McDonald’s following the birthday drinks the night before.  Armed with food that turned out to be not very fast, we boarded the ferry.  I then discovered that my burger was not plain after specifically asking for a plain one.  Devastated.  We got to Centre Island and headed for Far Away Farm to visit my favourites.  The llama was rude and didn’t come over to say hello, but it was nice to see it outside in the sunshine.  The giant pig, Charlotte, was also basking in some sun.  I went inside to visit the triplet lambs that I saw three weeks ago and was sad to learn that one had died shortly after that.  We had a potter around the maze, still couldnt find the middle!  As it was a work day, we decided to hire a quadricycle to see more of the islands with the time we had and we cycled to Wards Island and back with me being a tour guide.   We parted company when I went off to work and this time was a successful separation with no getting lost in Moss Park.  The bestie went home for a bit and then managed to navigate her way back to go up the CN Tower for a second time to see the views at night until I finished work.


On Thursday, I arranged for her to go and see a Blue Jays game with some friends of mine.  She got there early to get her free tshirt and endured a game.  It would seem that a love of baseball is not going to be a common interest!  She made it through what I think will be her first and only baseball game from feedback received!

We went off to the cottage on Friday and had a quiet day on Monday after we got back.  There was a bit of lying on the beach to get the last of the sunshine followed by a final meal at Outrigger and a last drink at the local.  We stayed local on Tuesday and just pottered around the beaches.  There was an attempt at lying on the beach, but dogs and clouds brought this to an ending and we opted for a cuppa in the bean coffee shop instead.  An ice cream at the Eds and a trip to the pet shop to get Mr Jinx a gift were our final ports of call before it was all to soon time to get the cases and depart.  There have been many times that we have said the same thing throughout the trip, right down to the point in Eds when someone asked us what they should do in London when they visit…. In perfect sync we responded with “don’t go to London”.  These moments provided giggles and entertainment throughout and show 11 and a half months has changed nothing.  A definite highlight was knowing each other well enough during a guessing game for me to shout out “the underwear I wear” and she knew the answer without hesitation.

We made it to the train station despite the heavy and bulky baggage doing its best to hinder this and parted ways.  Another goodbye and they still don’t seem to be getting any easier.  Luckily she loved it and is already planning her next trip over.  So happy that we had my one year Canada anniversary and my 30th, with lots of new tourist stuff for both of us.  I have put in tourist requests to do together when I visit home later this year.  It is weird to think that there are only two people I have seen from home in the past year, and no one in Toronto yet that I have known for a year due to a gap in time in Orangeville.

A weekend at the cottage 

This weekend, I lived life like the Canadian stereotype – I booked a cottage and 11 friends and I headed off to the lakes for a post birthday mini break.  Three of us headed up on Friday and arrived late afternoon – just in time for an hour of sunbathing and to get a head start exploring the cottage and the grounds.  The cottage was a good size, though still a tight squeeze with so many of us.  There was a sauna in a little shed in the garden, a fire pit and a boat house down some steps by Eagle Lake with canoes, a kayak and a little sail boat.When the next couple of cars of people arrived, we had a quick paddle in the canoes, got the sauna lit, chopped some wood (split wood as the Canadians say) and then had a BBQ.


Saturday was not as warm, but the sky was blue and the lake was looking beautiful.  A fellow Devonian made pancakes for breakfast for everyone and then we headed down to the lake.  Cue, playing with canoes out on the lake.  It was great fun paddling around the lake giggling and trying not to drop my phone in the water whilst taking selfies and pictures of the views.  Passing my phone from one canoe to another for photos without dropping it or wobbling the canoes was a skill that mastered and will have forever.Saturday night brought another BBQ and a birthday cake from my friends.  It even had candles.  I enjoyed this.  The evening involved eating immense amounts of food, crisps and dip and consuming Malibu.  One of the girls introduced us to a new game called Heads Up.  It is an app where you hold the phone up to your forehead and the people around you have to act out the word until you guess it.  You guess as many as you can in a minute.   I really enjoyed the night.


Sunday involved tidying up – we used an amazing amount of towels and bedding between us.  Two of the boys went off on one of the canoes.  After a few hours, they had not returned.  We were just stood by the lake debating at what point we should begin to worry when one of them appeared on foot.  They had gone out on their own with no phone and in the strong currents, one decided he couldnt make it back.  They got to the shore and one ran 25 minutes back around the lake for reinforcements.  We drove to the canoe and four of us paddled it back.  It was around 20 minutes to get home and good fun canoeing in the strong currents out in the lake.  Rescue mission complete.  More laundry and cleaning up.  Goodbyes as people gradually headed back to the city and the last night was just me and The Bestie.We went to the dump in search of bears.  It was smelly and filled with more waste than any tips I have seen at home.  The seagulls were having a whale of a time, but there were no bears to be seen.  We consulted with the guys working at the dump who showed us a bear paw print and sent us to Kennisis Lake Landfill site to see bears.  The guy at Kennisis Lake told us to come back around 8pm.  At 8pm we headed back and parked up waiting for the bears to arrive.  After around 30 minutes, we were rewarded for our patience and a troop  of black bears showed up to rummage through the waste.  It was hard to get a good picture as we werent very close due to the dump being locked up, but it was definitely bears.  So exciting.  I know they can be dangerous, but all I wanted to do was get out and go closer.  I did not.  The most I did was open the window and stick my arm out to take a picture.We went home to watch a film in our PJs on the sofa with duvets.  We fell asleep.


The journey home involved way too much spending in a gift shop.  I am a sucker for fridge magnets and Christmas decorations.  We went to Dairy Queen, we went to another dump to look for more bears and moose (no further sightings to report) and then we arrived home around 330pm.


A jolly good weekend with some good friends.  Some of them are not planning on staying in Canada, but I hope that I have some friends for life in the mix.

 

Turning 30

The big birthday came and went without too much drama.  I had some cards to open and lots of presents which was exciting.  It was so nice that people sent presents from England.  They were such thoughtful gifts as well.  There were sequins, so many sequins that I enjoyed.  Post its with references to comedy moments and personal notes. It meant a lot.  I also found out on my birthday that my sister is having a boy, I thought it would be a boy, but it was nice to have confirmation so I know I can buy blue. Jenny and I went for an ice cream at Sweet Jesus, the CN Tower for a cup of tea and then we went to a restaurant in The Beaches for dinner – Green Eggplant.  Obviously, I had spaghetti carbonara.  My standard birthday meal, only deviated from occasionally for risotto.  We are just a carbonara family.  I asked for extra mushrooms.   After dinner we went for a couple of quiet drinks at my local bar.  My friend was working and a couple of people came in for a drink.  A fabulous random night was had.  There was Malibu, oh so many shots and a lot of 90s cheese on the jukebox.  My favourites are fairly unchanging – Tiffany, Sweet Caroline, B*Witched, Spice Girls, SClub7….. There was singing, so much singing.  We went for some post bar beverages at a friends house and headed home at around 330am  after our quiet drinks.

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Do I feel any different?  No.  I feel like I have achieved a good amount in my life.  I am a person who is prepared to work to get what I want, and here I am in Canada.  The only things I would like to have in my life that I don’t have are things I have no control over.  One thing that has occurred to me is that perhaps I am closer to dating men in their 40s…. Not yet but it is a scary thought to adjust to if I am not with husband soon.

When The Bestie came to town. Part 1.

Last week, the adventures with The Bestie from England began.  She arrived in town on Thursday late afternoon.  I have to say I was a title nervous heading to the train station to meet her, excited of course, but a bit nervous.  What if she doesn’t get on with my new friends?  What if she doesn’t like Toronto?  Meeting people properly and exploring would come later though, for now, the goal was to keep her awake until at least 10pm. A walk along the boardwalk, followed by dinner in a put up the road and then a quick drink in my local usual pub did the trick and she was allowed to sleep around 11pm.Our first day was spent around The Beaches.  We went for my usual walk through Glen Manor Ravine, Kew Gardens and along the boardwalk.  We had lunch at a restaurant called the Green Eggplant which was fantastic.  People rave about it on Facebook, but I hadn’t gotten around to going there.  We fed the squirrels in the park and chatted out way through the day. The evening came and it was time for our trip to the West End.  I thought that this would be the first tour of Jimmy Carrs that I would miss in 10 years – luckily, he came to Canada the day after Jenny arrived.  She bought me a ticket for my birthday and off we headed.  He as his usual funny, inappropriate self!  We queued to meet him at the end like true fans.  When we got back to the beaches, we had ice cream sundaes.  A jolly tasty ending to a good day. 

Saturday brought the start of a weekend roadtrip.  We headed to Hamilton to visit Taylor’s Tea Rooms.  I went there during the long weekend in March and it was a overly little place, so I was keen to go back.  We had a cream tea and cake and a little potter around the shops.  The sun was shining and it was a lovely stop on the way to Niagara.  I purchased some Applewood Smoked Cheddar and some peanut butter chocolate covered bacon.  We headed for Niagara on the lake as lots of people have recommended going there.  It took us a fair while to get there and we stayed for around ten minutes before agreeing that we enjoyed the shops in Hamilton more and the beach and water in the beaches more.  Onward.


To the Falls.  Off to the Falls and straight on to the boat trip.  Luckily she loved it.  We left the Falls for food at Wendy’s (square burgers and pouting) and to visit the outlet mall.  I was delighted to purchase two pairs of Roxy flip flops for $33.  Yes.  $33.  This is crazy cheap.  I got a couple of pairs of jeans.  Jenny got a Pandora charm and we headed back to the falls for a night time view.  This time, the view would be from up the Skylon Tower.  We were a little disappointed to discover that the lights are not behind the falls, but projected on to the falls.


This I where we decided to start heading towards Point Pelee, tomorrow’s destination on the trip.  We thought we would head east and stop and stay in a motel after about 90 minutes of driving.  We set off around 1130pm.  We secured a room for the night at 315am.   The first place we stopped said vacancies on the sign, but when we rang the buzzer they said they had none.  The next little town we found – Brantford – had no rooms available in any hotels or motels in the area due to an event in the area.  Something to do with Wayne Gretsky – his name was mud that night.  We kept driving and managed to get a room in Woodstock.  By this point, she could have put us in the cleaning cupboard with a blanket and we would have been happy.   The lady was fantastic and we had a lovely room for the night.  

A Tim Hortons breakfast to start the day and we were off to Point Pelee.  Why?  It is the most southern point of mainland Canada.  The whole pointy bit sticking off the mainland is a park with lots of trails and beaches.  We had a lovely walk down to the point through beaches, woodland and marshes.  I was excited to spot a couple of actual real life Blue Jays.  Unfortunately we couldn’t get close enough to get a good photo.  Their wings were bright blue when they flew and they caught my eye as they crossed our path.  We reached the point and walked on the beach.  The current was super strong and the waves from Lake Erie were crashing on to the beach.  I picked up lots of shells which was a novelty as there don’t even to be shells on beaches here.  I must find out why.  Point Pelee was a lovely park and I would love to go back again.  The varied scenery was nice and I would enjoy a BBQ on the beach.  We made our way back to the beaches and returned the car ready for bed. 



Today was sleep, painting the new apartment (that’s another story) and a potter around downtown.  I had work, so I went to work and Jenny decided to get lost in a strange city on her on with no mobile phone and no one to call.  Luckily, she got back on track to one of the places on the list of places to get wifi and we were able to find each other again after she had done some exploring and I had finished work.  A couple of drinks at the pub and now it is definitely time for bed.