Rogers Centre Tour, World Cup Hockey Village and Toronto Islands

The Rogers Centre do tours of the building, so we headed downtown for a spot of lunch and a tour.  Lunch was not as easy as one would think – its surprisingly hard to find a nice casual pub when you are very hungry and everyone around you is wearing suits.  I had a mushroom pasta.  Obviously.

The Rogers Centre tour was interesting and an excellent way to spend my time when I am not there working.  I was allowed to sit in the seats – its all standing when I am working, walk on the field and peer into the bull pen at field level.  It  was a good little tour, although I was disappointed we didnt get to go in the dug out.  

We had some time to kill before the game and decided to potter off to Kensington Market for some tattoos.  I got a blue jay on my inside heel and my pal got a maple leaf.  Mine hurt a lot.  The most painful one I have had so far.  Especially when we then had to hurry to hobble back in time for the game. 

The adventures continued throughout the week with a walk around the World Hockey Cup Fan Village and the Distillery District.  The fan village was good fun with lots of tents with different activities and promotions.  We ran around the village collecting stamps from different check points be one of the first 500 to get 10 and win a scarf.  Such easy fun.  

A stroll through St Lawrence market and I found a new Christmas shop to entertain me.  Luckily I managed to exercise some self control as the adorable mini wooden decorations came with a less than adorable price tag.

Every good tourist must take a trip to Toronto Islands.  Yesterday was the day for it.  

We took the ferry over and visited Far Away Farm petting zoo.  The alpacca I saw as a baby in the winter was there, Charlotte the giant pig and a cute new little pig that was covered in wet mud.  We sat and had our picnic and hired a quadricycle.  Record speeds saw us overtaking the tourists to reach the skyline photo hot spots.  There were ducks at Wards Island, I picked one up for a cuddle.  We had five minutes of rain, a hot chocolate and cycled back to have a roam in the maze before heading back for Beavertail and sports games.


Shooting and Niagara Falls

Day two with my pal and we were off on a road trip.  The obligatory trip to Niagara Falls.  Of course, there is always more than just one adventure in the adventure and we went to the Outlet Mall and for a spot of shooting.  

We went to Silverdale Gun Club in St Anns, about 30 minutes from Niagara Falls.  We had opted for a hand gun shooting package each and had great fun shooting 2 hand guns and a rifle each.  Obviously I had to ask if we could have targets with a body outline again rather than a target.  We were in luck an we had a green shape to aim at.  50 bullets each, lots of fun and we were on our way!

Niagara Falls.  Boat trip.  Christmas shop.  Wendy’s.  A disappointing meal at IHOP.  What more is there to say?

Touristing with a friend from home….  World Cup Hockey and Ripleys Aquarium

A friend has come to town for my third visit.  Touristing has been taken up a few notches.  

On Wednesday I was not working in any of my three jobs, so it was nice to have a lie in before we did my standard favourite walk around the beaches, the ravine, kew gardens and the boardwalk before heading down town.  

It turns out we are a terribly bad influence on each other when it comes to shopping.  I finally got myself a Blue Jays jersey – Martin 55, he is the only player from Toronto and 55 is the year my parents were born, so he was a good choice.  Also got a scarf and a bag.  That was just the beginning…

The aquarium was an impromptu stop.  I have wanted to go for a while but just havent gotten around to it.  I loved the moving walkway through a tank with lots of sharks in it.  Having always been a shark fan, I could have stayed here for hours watching them.  I put my hand in a tank with some Scarlett Cleaner Shrimps and they nibbled and cleaned my hands and under my nails.  

We took a stroll towards the Air Canada centre to potter around the shop before grabbing some poutine and finding our seats for the Europe vs Canada World Cup Hockey game.  I love going to the hockey and my friend got me a hockey jersey and tickets to say thanks for having him.  We were supporting Canada, so to top it off, it was great that we won. 

We got some fantastic photos of the Toronto sign at night on the way home before arriving home exhausted. 

Bruce Peninsula:  The Grotto, Sauble Beach

I awoke after my second night in my bunkie a little less rested due to the relentless rain – but snug and dry nonetheless.  I also had a new title… Auntie.  My sibling had her first baby early in the early hours of Thursday for her in England, and late on Wednesday in Canada.  I find it strange that he was born on a different day for me.  All ok and I now have to wait impatiently for November to meet him.

My third and final day of my adventure took me off the island and back to Tobermory and the Bruce Peninsula. I went on the ferry again.  This time I got to drive up one of the ramps and then the ramp raised up towards the ceiling with me still in the car.  An odd experience, not one for those who suffer with claustrophobia.  Still raining, so I found a quiet spot to sit and watch Bad Neighbours 2 on my trusty iPad. 

The sun came out as the ferry docked, and Tobermory was cute and bustling with fish and chip shops and tourists.  Very different to the frozen desert of February.  I didn’t stop long as I wanted to start heading south for The Grotto.  

The Grotto is one of those places that is on every list of top places to visit in Ontario.  A beautiful sea cave.  It was around a 20 minute walk from the car park to the grotto with some lovely views along the way.  The Grotto caused a number of different emotions.  Disappointment, guilt for not feeling more awestruck, disappointment at the tourists.  It was beautiful, there is no denying that, but all the pictures show a beautiful secluded idyllic haven.  I walked out into a tourist hot spot full of tourists.  The pictures of this spot are perhaps better than the lack of real life wow factor of the visit for me.  I met a lady along the way and we walked together and decided to hike the Mar Lake trail to Boulder Beach and back to the Grotto path and car park.  

When I visited the area in February, I took one of my favourite pictures I have taken since being in Canada.  I drove to Colpoy’s Bay with the idea it would be nice to find the spot, but unlikely.  I found it! 

Heading South again and I popped to Wiarton to see Wiarton Willie.  The story says that there was a groundhog who lived in Wiarton who, in February of each year, would predict the weather and when the Spring would come.  There is a festival each year, a statue to remember Willie, a live groundhog and all sorts of amusing stories of the murder of Willie and his under studies, cover ups and body doubles.

I had two more stops before returning to Toronto.  Sauble Falls and Sauble Beach.  I was told last summer that Sauble Beach was a must visit, and the falls were on the way.  

Sauble Beach was great.  I loved it!  It was a very English sea side beach with rubbish tourist shops, cheesy signs and a long sandy beach.  I was told by some people I chatted to that in the winter, the snow and ice blows in to such an extent that you could lean against the sign over the beach.  Lake Huron had good waves to offer and I had a lovely swim with my waterproof phone case.  So much fun. In those moments in the Lake, I didn’t have a worry in the world.  I stayed to watch the sun set.

Manitoulin Island #2 – Kicking Mule Ranch and Providence Bay

After a fantastic nights sleep, I got up around 930 this morning to get ready for a trail ride at 11.  The owner of the ranch, Willie, took me for a 3 hour ride with a picnic.  I rode the same horse as yesterday, a handsome chap called Johnny.  I loved every second of it.

After riding, I went for a drive to Providence Bay.  A pretty beach bordered with sand dunes on Lake Huron.  The fish and chip shop was closed, but there was a cute little cafe for tea and cake with a shop attached. 

I drove back to Mindemoya to get some picnic food for tomorrow and then found a restaurant for dinner.  The two main restaurants were like roadside diners, but seemed to be busy with regulars arriving quickly.  I got my food to take away and ate it back at the ranch.  

Some exciting news tonight…. but that will have to wait for tomorrow.

Time to watch a film in bed – I have had Sharknado ready to watch on my ipad for sometime, but havent been sat still long enough to watch it.

Manitoulin Island #1 – Kicking Mule Ranch and Bridal Veil Falls

Day one of my latest adventure is ending and here I am at the Kicking Mule Ranch on Manitoulin Island in the cutest little bunkie.  I left Toronto this morning and drove to Tobermory to get the ferry called the Chi-Cheeman across to Manitoulin Island.  The ferry takes two hours and was much bigger than I expected.  I was one of the last cars on, but there were cars stacked on the car level using all sorts of bridges that go up and down.  I explored the ferry and then had some food and sat on the top deck reading a new book.  The ferry was like a maze with doors and corridors and staircases everywhere, I felt like I was on the Titanic.

The ranch was easy to find when I got off the ferry, and I could hardly suppress a ridiculous grin as I drove up the drive way.  The place is ADORABLE.  My little bunkie has a picnic bench and chiminea outside on its little front deck area.  Inside there is a double bed, two chairs, a bedside table and a bookcase with some candles and decorative bits.  When I got back this evening, Willie, the owner had put the lamp on for me.  Other accommodation is made up of little tee-pees and bunkhouses all with their own little outside area.  There is a shower and toilet block, a kitchen hut and a little shop shack.  

The first thing I did was change my shoes and hop on a lovely horse called Johnny for a one hour trail ride.  It was lovely to be on a horse again, and to smell that familiar smell.  The trail ride was lovely, there were 5 of us, plus the leader, but one girl had panic 10 minutes in so went back with her friend.  The horses all wear western saddles which I have never ridden with before – strange big stirrups, a rope for a bridle and a huge saddle.  The saddle was very comfy and shaped to make you automatically sit up properly. I was asked if I wanted to wear a hat – this baffled me a bit… Why would I not wear a hat when riding a tall animal through uneven terrain that could crack my skull? Anyway, Dad would tell me off if I didn’t.

After the ride, I hopped in the car and went for a bit of a drive around the Island, ending up going to Bridal Veil Falls near Kagawong.  It was so pretty and worth visiting.  The water was lovely and warm and I wished I had my bikini to swim.  I paddled my feet, and walked around behind the falls.

Further down the river, there were lots of carefully balanced stone statues that Canadians seem to like building everywhere. They all them an Inukshuk, meaning the image of a man.  Apparently they were originally used as markers, so they would put them in spots where canoes or kayaks could be beached.

I drove around for some time after this.  I found an odd little beach.  The pictures say it all… who would swim there? Very strange.  

I then headed for food, discovering that everywhere in Manitoulin closes at 8pm.  Including most of the garages and corner shops.  I drove 40 minutes to a restaurant that advertised on the website they were open until 9pm. Got there at 8 and was told they had closed at 730 and they suggested I come back at 8am.  I suggested they update their website.  Turns out that there is one Inn that is open later, but on the other side of the island.  Eventually found a corner store who let me use their microwave to make some food.  They said no one goes out after 8 to eat on the island and they don’t really have any pubs.  Weird.

Anyway, junk food consumed and I am back in my bunkie ready to read for a bit before a getting a good nights sleep ready for more horse riding tomorrow.  There is complete silence outside, and the stars are the brightest I have seen in a long time.

Home visit

Flight home is now booked for November and I am getting more excited as it gets each day closer.  I cant wait for so many things…. friends, family, the sea, the moors, decent chocolate, the farm,  proper sausages and good food.  Familiar farm smells, sarcasm and inappropriate humour.  I will get to meet my nephew who will be born by then, and see my cats.  I can visit the dentist for free, and have my hair done by the only hair dresser I trust to do it how I like it.

I am flitting between excitement and sadness.  I cant wait to see the farm, but every time I think about it, I feel overwhelmingly sad that my Folly wont be there.  It is sad losing any pet, but its so much more so when you have had them for over 20 years.  I have only got one friend that I have had for longer than her.  She has been there whenever I have been sad about anything and now I will have to go to all the places I spent most of my time with her, and she wont be there.  Aside from this, people have a tendency to try and hug me which will only make it worse.  People dont understand and expect you to not be sad anymore a couple of weeks after pets die, but Folly was more than other pets.  Ever since I was little, I wanted her to be at my wedding one day, now she never will be.  She was every little girls perfect little pony, in a cantankerous, hairy, rolling, bucking, kicking, muddy kind of way with innocent long eyelashes to assure passers by that she is none of the above.

Willy Wonka

Wednesday night and me and my friend from Manchester pottered to the park to see a film – Willy Wonka.  We got there early, so fed the squirrels and then got a Tims and settled on our towels to wait.  The film started when It was almost dark and the place got pretty busy.  I have never seen an outdoor film and really enjoyed it – though very jealous of the person who thought to bring pizza.  

In true Canadia style, people clapped at certain points in the film.  In true English style, we looked at each other and rolled our eyes when this happened.  His led to a discussion about the type of people who clap when the plane lands and why don’t we get clapped for doing our jobs.  

Whilst I find that it is incredibly hot and humid and I didn’t think I had adjusted at all, we were shivering and wishing we had more layers at 24 degrees in the evening.  We must be adjusting because at this temperature in England, everyone would be filling the beer gardens and getting drunk and sunburnt.