5 sleeps, 4 cleaning shifts, 2 bar shifts and it will be time to fly home. I am have packed what seems like an insane amount of stuff, and yet I look around and my apartment looks as though I havent packed anything. So. Much. Stuff. 

I cant wait. I cant wait to see my friends.  The people who get my sense of humour.  The ones who need absolutely no filter.  My family, and to meet my nephew.  My cats.  I cant wait to see Mr Jinx with his one angry looking eye.  I am dreading seeing the empty stable where my lovely pony should be, and going for walks without her.  I cant wait for a night out where we can stay out dancing until daylight, if we feel so inclined.  My car, oh my gosh, I cant wait for the freedom of being able to drive places.  The log fire being lit.  The aga.  Ordering a meal in a pub and being able to get vegetables and mashed potatoes instead of fries with EVERYTHING.

Am I seeing everything with a rosy tint? There is a small part of me that is worried I am remembering a perfect Devon that doesnt exist.

This whole adventure has made me really appreciate England and all it has to offer.  Driving four hours before seemed like a ridiculous distance for one night or a day trip, these days that is nothing. I cant wait to explore more of England.   

I am 99% sure I want to return toEngland  next year.  It is a complete U-Turn from where I was a few months ago.  I feel like the honeymoon period is over in Canada.  I could easy be happy choosing to stay here.  The thing is, I didnt leave England because I was unhappy, so I see no reason not to return.  I have lost a lot of independence here being back in a rented bachelor and no car.  The benefits dont seem great enough to stay.  The summer is too hot and too humid, and I am over being asked constant questions about London.

I am so excited for a trip home, I just want to sleep until it is time to leave. 


End of an era

Well, thats it.  It is all over. The baseball season for the Blue Jays has ended and I am feeling terribly sad.  We made it through to the Post Season and I had an amazing experience getting to be there for all the home games.  The fans were so hyped up and excited, Blue Jays fever was spreading rapidly, although maybe not quite as much as last year.  The thought of getting through to, or winning the World Series was amazing and it was so incredible to believe it could happen.

As the game went on today, it became more real that this could be the last game I got to work at.  I felt emotional watching the game, emotional, tense, excited, hopeful – I almost wanted to hide until it was all over!  Then I felt silly for caring so much.  It was so sad that the last game didnt get to end with high fives and hugging random strangers.  

I have had my ups and downs, but had an amazing season and so happy that I got to be a part of it.  Whatever happens, wherever I end up living, I will always be a Blue Jays fan.  I came to Canada with zero interest in sports and will leave continuing to bore others with my baseball enthusiasm.  I feel genuine emotion about the game, and I felt proud to learn the rules, the players and to get to know the personality of baseball.  It is the end of an era for me, a short one in the grand scheme of life, but a big part of my Canadian adventure.  However sad it all is now, I cant wait to see some games as a fan and visit some other stadiums next year with renewed hope for a 2017 World Series win.

Algonquin, Screaming Heads and Wonderland

How do you follow a sucessful day bear spotting?  With a visit to Algonquin Park to hike in the beautiful autumn colours.  A simple idea one would think…. if the signage was conducive to actually finding the trails.  We found a hippy retreat, a retreat for troubled teens, a sign saying not to pick up hitchhikers, a knife making place, some lumberjacks, a closed canoeing place… all the makings of a perfect horror film.  Eventually we got directions from the closed canoe place telling us the trail was on an unmarked road with a sign at the top?! Of course. 

We hiked up a trail to an old fire tower watch point. Unfortunately the tower was no longer there, but the view and the colours were pretty nonetheless.  The trail itself was a nice meandering 4km upwards earning us our picnic at the top.

We stopped for drinks and drove south to the Screaming Heads in Burks Falls area.  This was a place that has been on my list to visit for some time.  I wasnt sure what to expect, but it was totally worth going.  The site is filled with over 100 ‘screaming heads’ – concrete structures designed to look like a screaming face, often with hands either side.  The artist, a high school teacher, who created them also built his own castle – Midlothian Castle.  I read that he has a studio in the castle, but it looked quite derelict, so perhaps this is no longer.  I have always loved the eerie and the grey, creepy and spooky places, so this was fantasically interesting to me. I read that the artist, Peter Camani, built the faces to raise awareness of environmental degradation – I loved the place, but  I have to say I have absolutely no idea how it raises awareness of anything to do with the environment.

Our final stop was on the way home, Wonderland.  We visited the Halloween Haunt that they run throughout October.  There were people dressed up to scare us around the park and a number of fun haunted houses to visit.  It was a nice random end to a nice couple of days out of real life. 

Killbear Provincial Park and my first BEAR SIGHTING

My friend from Manchester who lives down the road had a couple of friends to stay this week and we all headed north on a road trip.  One of them drives, so it was nice to have someone to do some of the driving leaving me typing this in an antisocial fashion on the way home.  We had a few places we wanted to visit and a common goal of seeing a bear.  Before leaving, I mentioned this goal in the pub and I was leant two canisters of bear spray and told by some of the other regulars not to worry and that we wouldn’t see a bear.  

Off we went to Killbear Provincial Park.  We kept our eyes peeled along the way for bears, moose or beavers with a few sudden stops that turned out to be false alarms. The further nor we got, the prettier the scenery with multicoloured trees lining the roads.  We googled the park as we got near and read quite a few bear sightings stories.  The excitement was building.  As we arrived, the park had a big sign up saying that there was a bear in the park.

First trail, the 1.8 km Twin Points Trail.  It was a woodland trail that came out on some big rocks with stunning views of Georgian Bay and the lake.  There was a little beach and some picnic benches.  

We went to the Beaver Dam campsite (where we had been told the bear was the night before) to have our picnic lunch and look around for our furry friend.  No such luck and we went off to check out the shorter 0.5 km Light House Point Trail.  We reached the top of the rocks with disappointment that there was no actual light house.  Luckily we kept going around the corner and found the light house.  With lots of rocks around, we decided to build our version of an Iqaluit man.  There were not many flat rocks, but we were happy with our little man.

As bears are most active at dawn and dusk, we squeezed in one last trail, the Lookout Point 3.5 km Trail so we could pop back to the campsite before heading to our AirB&B.  A less interesting trail, but a nice walk nonetheless.  The other two trails had spectacular views and this one didn’t really offer anything that the others hadn’t already shown us a better version of.

Back to the Beaver Dam Campground for one last attempt at a bear sighting.  As we pulled up to the area he was last seen in, we saw a few people stood around in clusters looking at something.  We pulled the car up, leapt out as it was barely stationary as if it was on fire and ran to the edge of the grass to take pictures of the most cuddly looking 18 month old black bear.  The excitement reached ridiculous levels, bordering on hysteria.  He wasn’t bothered by us at all and we were closer than we ever thought we would get, or want to get to a bear.  He didn’t look up at the people and was just pottering about eating the grass.  He did a poo, so that answers that question.  We stood watching him for around 30 minutes and headed back to our abandoned car.

On the way to South River where we were staying, we found a lovely little cafe for hot chocolate and baked goods and carried on driving on what was becoming a rather anxious quest for fuel.  We finally came across a gas station and saw the man starting to close the door at 19.58.   Now, we were on quite a main road with little thinking time, so instead of a calm approach, Leanne who was driving executed a sharp and sudden turn into the station mounting the pump with the rear wheel.  The men came rushing out, we giggled uncontrollably.  The men turned out not only to be English, but from Plymouth!  Anyway, the car, passengers and pump were all in one piece luckily, and we sped off in to the night with a full tank of fuel and tears of laughter streaming down our faces.

We stayed in an AirB&B in South River.  It had three bedrooms, was looking out on to a lake and was warm and cosy when we arrived.  We had a pasta bake for dinner and lounged around too tired to do much. 

Collingwood Scenic Caves and Suspension Bridge, Blue Mountain and some waterfalls

I lost one friend on Sunday night when he went back home to the UK, but another one flew in on Saturday night to keep me occupied.  This one is here to stay in Toronto for the next year, so a girls roadtrip was on the agenda.

We rented a car and three of us headed just over two hours north to Collingwood for a spot of touristing at the Scenic Caves.  It was grey, rainy and miserable most of the way up there, but luckily the rain stopped when we arrived.  The woods were pretty and it was quiet with hardly anyone else on the trail.  Probably for the best as we were not keeping the peace – talking non stop after not all seeing each other for months.  The caves were fun to explore with stories about the beliefs of the native people that once lived there.  There was a rock marked called Ekarenniondi where it said they would ‘draw the brains out of the heads of the dead and keep them’.  This was to remove memories so they would not recall their past lives or those left behind.  There was another spot called Suicide Point.  Legend says that there was a woman who once fell in love with a man from another tribe, he was thrown to his death here by her own jealous tribe and she later killed herself in the same spot. 

The views when we first got to some of the check points on this trail were obscured by mist, but as we were leaving, the mist cleared giving us pretty views for miles towards Georgian Bay.  The leaves are gorgeous colours as Autumn is developing and the drive up all provided us with bright multicoloured foliage.

After the trail, where we realised we are all hideously unfit!, we stopped to take hundreds more photos and for me to feed the fish/ seagulls.  We had a little potter about in the children’s playground, saw numerous carved wooden animals and checked out the thanksgiving displays that seem to be cropping up throughout Canda ready for next weekend.

Our next destination was the suspension bridge.  This was at the same site as the caves.  At the highest point, the suspension bridge puts you at the same height as the Eiffel Tower.  I have to say, this felt a lot safer than the Eiffel Tower!!  I was more than happy to jump up and down and run around playing on this bridge feeling it sway and wobble, whereas the Eiffel Tower felt far scarier and was a much more sensible affair.  We were up in the trees with the lovely colours.  I would love to visit here every week for the next two months and watch the colours gradually change as winter approaches.  

With plenty of daylight hours to savour, we drove ten minutes to Blue Mountain.  This is where I came to ski in Feburary, so it was interesting to see the contrast between then and now.  I definitely preferred it covered in snow.  It is so cosy in the winter and the slopes look scarier covered in snow.  We plan to return and get out on those beginners slopes.  I intend to master the hardest one this time without quite so many impromptu sit downs.  Blue Mountain was followed by a drive out to Wasaga as one of my chums hasn’t seen the beach there.

Our final two stops before heading back to Toronto were two waterfalls.  I think it has become apparent from my adventures that I do enjoy a waterfall.  I think I still have over 90 to discover in Hamilton alone, so I have lots to keep me occupied.  We went to Walters Falls a little West of Collingwood and Inglis Falls, a little further west again.  Walters Falls was pretty, but you couldn’t see much from the top.  I had the bright idea of a solo adventure to the bottom, ending with muddy knees and hands after skidding down and crawling up a bare muddy slope determined to get my photo from the bottom.  Right now, I think it was totally worth it.  I might feel some of those slips in the morning and change my mind. One final scenic destination to take some snaps at Inglis Falls and we headed home.  Unfortunately, there was no pretty sunset to be seen above the trees as the mist was descending again.  Wendy’s chicken nuggets and square burgers saw us through the last legs of the journey and our day of adventuring had to come to an end.

Hockey Hall of Fame and Goodbyes

The last few days have been nice and relaxing.  We went to the west end to a clothes shop my pal wanted to visit – luckily they also sold milkshakes, so that kept me happy.  We took a stroll through Trinity Bellwoods Park and found some people starting to lay snow to film an advert which was crazily realistic looking in the sunshine.  We walked through graffiti alley and went to Taco Bell.

On Thursday, we headed off to the Hockey Hall of Fame for some last touristing.  We had dinner at a pub downtown I have always fancied visiting and watched baseball.

Yesterday was one last stroll around the beaches before we set off for the airport.  On the way back from the airport I get the call to say, there was a flight problem and he was coming back to the beaches for one more night! 

Todays bonus day was an incredibly lazy one, I am almost ashamed to say, we mostly just slept and played on social media, read google trivia and discussed baseball.  A nice late lunch while watching the baseball at the pub, and it was time to say goodbye again.  For real this time.

What an amazing holiday. Even though it wasnt a holiday for me, it was.  We had the most fun.  We didnt argue at all which is amazing, not an abrupt tone or harsh word in sight.  A shared love of lie ins, shopping, baseball and food meant we just pottered around giggling, eating, spending money and making crude jokes.  English humour, gotta love it.  We sang a lot, we had a song by Buddy Holly – Everyday – in ours heads for most of the time.  My friends in the bar were amazing, so welcoming, reminding me of how they were when I first came here.  One leant me his car to drop my pal at the airport the first time, and then dropped him himself the second time.  I cant wait for round 2 in the snow!

The week has reminded me of the things I love about Canada and some of the amazing friends I have.  It has also reminded me how good my friends are at home.  The eternal internal quest to decide where home will be goes on.

For now, I should sleep. My apartment is strangely quiet with noone to chat to, and my foster cat moved on last week as well.  Me and Mavis against the world again.