Christmas 2016

Christmas this year was a different one again.  I have said to people that it is just a day, and it really was just that this year to me.  I am not too sad about not being at home as the family christmas is not as it used to be – with mum, dad and sibling in three separate cities, it would have just been an exercise in decision making. Christmas in our household has always been the perfect storybook day – log fire, real tree, a pet sleeping in front of the fire, mum roasting chestnuts on the fire, stockings, lots of chocolate, cheese and a roast dinner – so I cant say I wont miss these things, but they would never have happened so I was okay with whatever the festive period offered.

Christmas Eve

A walk around the beaches and lunch with an old colleague from another world when I was in addictions work, and lots of chatter and catching up.  The bacon bap with cheese and mushrooms I had was spectacular, and they used ‘peameal’ bacon – normal bacon to me.  The morning was lovely, and the happy feelings continued when I met some friends at a pub for a drink in the afternoon.  It was nice to go somewhere different and we went to a couple of christmas pub dos. 

I came home earlyish with every intention of a relaxing night with a film.  Alas, the lurgy hit and I went to bed feeling sorry for myself full of aches.  

I opened my Christmas presents early to cheer me up.  They made me cry because I was ill and they were thoughful and so nice.

Christmas Day

I actually stayed in bed all day feeling ill and worrying I wouldnt make my dinner plans.  Luckily, I am a trooper and made it to a friends house for Christmas festivities.  A few friends from the pub were there and we had a lovely relaxed evening.  The roast turkey with mashed potato was spectacular.  The gravy was not the same colour as English gravy which confused me – it was delicious though. We went to the pub after for a beverage and I came home for bed before midnight.

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Toronto Islands Sunset

I have visited Toronto Islands many times over the past 18 months, in all the seasons, but yesterday I went for the sunset for the first time with the Welsh and the Scottish.  

We sat on a log on the beach in the freezing cold taking pictures, chatting and watching the sun set.  A lovely, chilly evening ending with hot chocolate in Starbucks to warm us up ūüôā

Distillery District Christmas Market 2016

I went to do my cleaning job this morning, came home for a nap and the streets had disappeared under a snowy wonderland.  We (Me and The Welsh) wrapped up and set off for the Distillery District to visit the Christmas Market.  The snow was not falling in a fairytale fashion, it was whipping our faces and stinging our eyes.  We eventually made it – the journey slow and transport full of snow covered bodies. 


We met the Scottish one there – it was lovely to have people to go with this year, and due to the snow, there were a lot less crowds than last year. 


The lights were pretty, the trees and sparkles were everywhere.  The giant plastic snowmen were covered in real snow, the mini maze of pink Christmas trees were snowy and the log cabins had proper snowy roofs.  The bakery was selling Cornish pasties – I was excited until they told me there were peas in it.  Why do Canadians put peas in their “Cornish” pasties?!  I had a thing called a Chimney Stack.  It was a bread/ pastry type cylinder covered in graham crackers and chocolate and marshmallow sauce.  The inside had melted chocolate and marshmallow sauce that I ate with a spoon.


There was a Christmas carol record attempt going on but, due to the snow, there were very few people.  We stood for a while watching the carollers, but it was too cold.  My warm investments were fine when moving, but stationary was too much for the winter gear to fight.

We walked around in the snow and then headed for a Tim Hortons to sit with hot drinks and baked goods and headed home.

Luckily, the street cars were running with no issues – a lot of the city hit standstill today.  Despite the weather warnings all week, it would seem not everyone put their snow tires on.  The roads near me were quiet and white.  

Meanwhile in Canada…

England: is it nice enough to put the washing on the line?

Canada: the heating in my apartment is either on or off.  Last night it was so hot I needed to open a window, it was frozen shut, so I opened the bathroom window for some fresh air.  This morning my toothbrush was frozen.

Running again. Again.

What with my runners knee a few years ago, and now plantar fasciitis, I sometimes feel that I should just live a sedentary life within reach of the fridge/ biscuit barrel.  

It has been around 2 months since I last had a little trot around the water treatment plant, and around 4-5 months since I ran without wanting to cry with the pain.

The quest to run pain free goes on and this week I had 2 steroid injections in each heel.  The injection pain was ridiculous, short, but it definitely hurt. A lot.  I had the injection on Thursday and bought some new gel plantar insoles to tackle it from all angles. By Friday night and Saturday my heels felt like they each had a big painful bruise on them with every step I took.  By Sunday night, I had noticed a massive improvement when I get up and with the walking pain.  It’s still sore, but sore as opposed to keeping me awake with pain.

Today, I went to the gym.  Again, a little sore and calves tight, but nothing extreme – I ran a mile in 10.43.  I didn’t want to overdo it so just did some cross training, arm weights, lunges – realised I had overdone it embarrassing quickly compared to my previous fitness levels and retreated to bed with a film!  My muscles are weary and my heels have a slight warm ache.

Feeling positive!

Elsie

This week I got my third foster cat.  After the situation with the last kitten weeing everywhere, this time I got an older cat that was being moved from another foster placement.  This is her fourth night and she is lying on the bed cuddling.  I cant believe the size of her, but what a beaut! 

So far she doesn’t seem bothered by Mavis and we are all living in harmony.  A very hairy existence with this fluff ball. 

Waterfalls and Christmas lights

This weeks road trip was another visit to Hamilton.   Most Canadians seem to think of Hamilton as a terrible place to visit and think of it as a very industrial place, for some reason, the fact that it has over 100 waterfalls and countless beautiful trails and hikes seems to have escaped them.   

A Welsh, a Scot, a Manc and myself hired a car and after a few dramas with the car hire, we were on our way.  The days agenda:  Waterfalls, Niagara on the Lake, Niagara Outlet Mall and then off to see the Christmas lights at Niagara Falls.

Felkers Falls was our waterfall feature for the day.  6m wide, 22m high and linked to the Bruce Trail.  The woodland was orange and crunchy with all the trees looking bare.  The beautiful autumn colours of last month have gone and are yet to be replaced with snow.  Luckily there was water in the waterfall as I remember visiting Devils Punchbowl in the summer and it was dried up.  We decided to trek to the bottom of the waterfall.  This involved some off the beaten path, Bear Grylls style climbing and outdoorsmanship.  We made it to the bottom and I was able to climb in behind the falls and stay completely dry.  


Just near Felkers Falls was Little Davis Falls.  An 8m wide, 3m high trickle of water ‘cascading’ over some steps in the rocks.


The climb out of the canyon we found ourselves in was entertaining to say the least.  At some points, our feet just slid on the mud and we could only pull ourselves up with the tree roots.  Needless to say, due to this, there are some muscle aches throughout the group today.  The slope was steep and we were low to the ground and covered in leaves when we made it to the top and climbed back over the barrier.  Perfect timing to drive to Niagara on the Lake and see the sunset over the water.  Unfortunately, it began to rain and the clouds got together to ensure our visibility of the sun set was at zero. 

To the mall!  I do love the Niagara Outlet Mall, but I also have a severe self control problem.   We all know how much sugar I can put away, think of that same level of self control when I am in a mall offering me 80% off designer hand bags.  I came away with moisturisers, candles and other body products from Bath and Body Works.  Making a decision proved impossible, so I just bought a range.  I dont think I will need to buy body scrub, moisturiser or scented candles for six months.  Unfortunately, we did not think through our hiking gear and walking around Kate Spade carrying handbags to choose which one was quite ridiculous when we noticed that in addition to fairly ridiculous attire there were leaves and bits of undergrowth stuck to us.  Yes, I bought the handbags.  No, I couldnt decide.  No, I didnt need them.  No, I couldnt afford them.  Yes, they are beautiful.  Yes, they will last forever.  Yes, they smell of leather.  And I actually got $495 total discount due to the incredible savings.  It would have been rude not too.  The others bought winter boots and trainers and we headed back to the car for the next adventure in our day out.  

Niagra Falls has a Winter Festival of Lights.  It was beautiful, even in the rain.  It was late and raining, which made the roads quiet so we could crawl along looking at the lights like little children with our noses pressed against the car windows.  Well, not me, I was driving, and getting very distracted from the road!  There were moose, bears, nativity scenes, swans, trees, snowflakes, mounties, inukshuks.  My favourite display was the light show on the Toronto Power Generating Station.  It was fantastic.  The building lit up in different colours and then multi colours all changing in time with the music.  The music was tuned to a radio station so we could listen to it in the car as we drove past.  It was playing Carol of The Bells.  I found a clip of the show here.


The journey home began with a mandatory Wendy’s.  Who doesn’t love a square burger?  Lets be honest, it was a double, with a side of poutine.   We headed back to Toronto singing Christmas songs – Michael Buble started us off and we then moved on to the Wurzels.  It was a happy journey and makes me smile thinking of it now.