Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Back to Canada

Long suffering Mike was quite worried that I would probably turn around and fly back home again, so he arranged to go to the pub with our Canadian neighbour's!!  Actually this turned out to be a stroke of genius as we had such a laugh and ended up on Gary & Tracey's boat which is jawdroppingly gorgeous!!!! I am not a fan of boats and cruise liners are definitely out, but this boat was tethered to a dock so that helps enormously I don't have to tell anyone about my fear as I do not leave the marina. We just stay there drinking cocktails and I marvel at my ability to conquer jet lag so quickly :)

Back to Blighty

One week after Sam&Rich visit I return to England, I got one of the best surprises every when Tasha met me from airport with Layla!! She sits on my luggage trolly with her arms outstretched like The King of the world from Titanic.
I essentially return home for my friends daughters wedding which was a fab old time,  Samantha looked incredibly beautiful in a stunning dress and I got to be on the 'mates' table which is always the best one. Karen (mother) instructed the bar staff to just keep the wine coming to our table which it inevitably did Hurrah!  My dear friend Matthew - affectionately know as Moth Man (as he looks like a college professor all worldly, anyway I digress,) he was approached by a young lad of about 25 to ask if he knew where he could get any Viagra to which Moth replied "do I look like someone who knows about the supply of Viagra??" best comment of the decade. This is the trouble when you give the Brits drinks they tend to get a bit naughty! It was a lovely way to catch up with old friends and probably on England's hottest day of the year :)

It was also the time of the Queens Jubilee so i attended street parties, watched the concert and the appalling river day which was a disaster, poor Queenie. Needless to say my neighbour got me tickets to my street party, therefore what follows her you will see is clearly her fault...

Saturday street Party, now as I am lucky enough to live in private housed road I don't have to see my neighbour's and in all honesty have no clear idea what they look like! I can tell you now that they are pretty old. Vonni and I go and look at where we are to set up and get told we are to go down the end, there are some very strange looking old ladies wrapped in bunting and the Vicar has a Burger King crown on with the imaginative addition of cotton wool balls all the way around.... no need to say any more on that attire. Anyhow the music is essentially Matt Monroe and other old crooners, this is not boding well as I turn to Von with a questioning look she yells at me "This is all your fault"  How is this pray tell I've been living in Canada, you got me the tickets and you don't even live in the road is my questions!!!  She's having none of it and blames me regardless, so dear friends there is only one solution when faced with a despot party just get pissed, which is what we all proceeded to do, some with more gusto than others mentioning no names....Vonni.  Luckily I had Layla with me who was a complete nightmare with running off all over the graveyard that could go into the road and indeed Claire (my sister) and I stuck it out for 2 hours before we gave in. Now I had a bonafide excuse to leave as everyone wanted the noise gone, but Von had to stay as she has gone ahead and invited 18 further people - none of which live in the road Ha Ha! The party got worse if you can believe it, we were told Mavis would be our resident artist, I thought that meant she was a Cartoonist it turns out she is some old warbler who terrorises people with her singing!!! Oh god it was terrible, NEXT was the Vicars tea party with all the old biddies rushing to sit next to the Vicar - honestly what this man has to put up with! It was dreadful and Von & Co just waltzed in and straight back out again Ha Ha.
Now the next party at Tracey & Matthews was much better and a true reflection of just how a street party should be held. Later that evening Claire and I watched the Amazeballs concert until the small hours. It was just so brilliant and made you really proud to be British, we really do these things so well.
Anyway suffice to say that very surprisingly for me every day and evening was jam packed so much so that I had to let some people down which I feel terrible about.  All too soon the trip is over and back to Canada...

Family Visit April-May 2012

Firstly it is ages since i wrote an update on the my blog, the excuses are many I'm afraid and once you are out of the habit it would seem any excuse is a good one not to write.

Therefore my first excuse for May was that my beloved family visited!!  Much joy from our camp as we had been waiting for this visit for a very long time. Rich,Sam,Layla& Harvey all made the flight across which for Sam&Rich must have been a terrible ordeal wit 2 under 2, can you imagine?  No? well neither can I and it turned out to be much worse that I could even imagine. So on a rainy April the 30th Mike comes home from work and we wait and wait for Tasha so that we could get to the airport, she was late from work because there was one of the biggest crashes in the QEW403 history and her replacement could not get to work. I was in Defcon1 panic stage, which I frequently am, but this time it was real. In all honesty we should have just simply gone to get Sam and to this day I do not know why I didn't just do that. However we set off it takes forever and looks like the end of the world has happened but because its on the other side of the motorway we do move albeit slowly. The end result is we are 10 minutes late to meet Sam, we of course could have had no clue that she was rushed through customs due to severely screaming children :( We then drive the 2 cars home Mike takes Rich and I take everyone else. The roads were totally jammed never before or since this day have I ever seen anything like it. It took us 3 hours to get home and poor Sam had reached the end poor thing.
On the plus side Layla LOVES her little sleeping beauty bed and the fact that she's in with Auntie Tasha is a massive bonus. During their time here we mainly did child friendly things like a huge indoor adventure playground, but Sam&Rich also had babysitters on hand to be able to see the CN Tower, Stay in a lovely hotel at Niagara Falls, Meals out so it all worked out really well. I of course got to see Layla and Harvey each day which was a total joy, they are hilarious together and got up to all sorts of things, one memorable one was Sudo-gate.....

Sudo-Gate.. Rich knows that its now v-e-r-y quiet in Tasha's room never a good sign so he thought he would check to see if Layla was asleep. He was met with an all white Layla who had discovered a pot of Sudocream which she proceeded to plaster everywhere, honest to god it looked like Marshmallow land. Rich drops to his knees and cried Oh Layla what have you done? whereby Layla gives him a reassuring if somewhat sticky pat on the shoulder as he is frantically trying to clear up. Unfortunately she has been so studious it was everywhere even Tasha's glasses copped it, it took hours to clear it all up.

Too be honest there were so many things, that I now realise we have entered the world of videoing everything as we will all soon forget. Harvey is a total joy it doesn't matter what you do, you are met with an enormous gummy dribbly grin everyones a winner!!!

Work Burger was a big success and 2 jugs of beer later I pick up the drunkies, they got a wonderful hire car that looked a bit like a Bentley it was enormous and Rich was thrilled to bits with it, I think they should have had it all the time really. Mike and I took them to see a Blue Jays game and Tasha babysat, we looked like an All-American family with baseball hats and beers so good times peeps

Then the awful day came when they had to go home :( that's all I'm gonna say bout that

Friday, April 13, 2012

Moose and Montreal


First of all Mike and I decide to get out and about and go to the nearest National Park to us, this appeared on Mikes map as about 1/2 and inch. 1/2 and inch how bad can that be I cried....4 hours later we arrive. The Park is called Algonquin Provincial Park. The reason I spell this out for everyone is that, this my friends is the first lesson which we will call "know your Sat Nav!" Armed 2 Apples, 1 Bag of crisps, 2 cokes, Sat Nav and a random look at a map (none of which I can even pretend to understand) we set off.

Mike starts yelling is it in the Sat Nav?  What I say, you expect me with my spelling skills to put in something like that!? Yes our learned explorer yells - I should point out at this stage we have gone 1/4 of a mile so far to the petrol station. I can do this I thought and start spelling out Algonkwin into the SatNav... "Cant find it I cry" as Mike is hurtling towards the 401 in the vain thinly disguised panic that he is in the right direction. I a recent descendant from Thomas Cook have no friggin idea so am of little help. Mike is outraged at my not being able to find the park and the following conversation takes place
M:Its bigger than Wales how can it not be in the Sat Nav
Me: Dunno
M:Gimme that thing, let me look at it (why do all men think they have x-ray vision that solves problems?)
M: You spelled it HOW!!!
Me: The correct way
M: Oh Jesus please help me in my hour of need! He hands back the wicked device and starts to spell (some would say yelling) out the name as if I have leaning difficulties. I type in as instructed
Me: Cant find it, its brought up a list of restaurants with the same name though. I give him this little bit of extra information so that it can confirm to him that he does have superior spelling skills to me! Here is even the website www.algonquinpark.on.ca
M: How can that be? and we proceed to drive the remainder of the trip heading towards another area that's quite close but can at least be located by the Sat Nav

(on another completely different strain have you noticed how everything is now Italic, I keep clicking on the symbol but nothing happens, it all went wrong when I started to show off that I can put websites on!! Oh well sorry folks.)

Anyway,  Jesus was indeed peering in on us that day and 2 gas station instructions later we arrive and as Mike predicted its so big its like another country! We drive through Cadbury Christmas Chocolate Box scenery honestly its truly breathtaking. We stop at the excellent travel centre and was helped by a lovely girl who gave up a map (finally) that highlighted the hiking walks. Bearing in mind we have already had a tense 4 hour journey here, which surely means a 4 hours journey home, even we realise we only have time for one of the shorter hikes. Such are our navigational skills even that could take days! "I'm hungry" a familiar cry from Mike is made in the car. We have eaten all the sweets brought en route and more worryingly drunk all the drink. We learn from the travel information centre that there is NO restaurants open not even the bars because its not the start of the season!!!!  Luckily and this is my redeeming point of the day I noticed that there was an establishment  that did have an open sign, granted it could have been left on from last season but what choice did we have?. We walk into a 1970's pine clad lodge and Mike did the usual of moulding into the background until I had found someone to talk to. My talk to person that day was the chef who had come in to design the new menu and he agreed to cook us lunch. Now beggars cant be choosers here you understand so we went for Burger for Mike and a Quesedila for me which is a tortilla sandwich. Water was then brought by a lady who had been found, I think,  from the Blair Witch Project and she proceeded to just simply stare at us from another table. Mike and I, English to the end started to make polite conversation. Now I'm good at accents but there was no way I could understand her and have you ever had one of those conversations here you start to fill in the words that you think she had said? I was okay with the horrifying tales of the cridders that bite yer in the summa. I started to say how bad Mike suffers, she looked as though as lightbulb had gone off in her head and shouts " I know just the thing everyone swears by it...Its Shhzzzzuurrgghh.....Mike and I look at each other and he is genuinely trying to keep it together. I as main talker didn't really know what to do, so I asked "Ooo how is that spelt?" to which she replies "with an S".  Sometimes as try as hard as you might there are simply no words and so I pretended to concentrate on the place mat. 
Food was brought, underwhelming comes to mind but hey beggers cant be choosers, it was also not helped by the fact that weird woman is now standing behind yet another table just watching us and the chef had come out to sit directly behind Mike!!!

We go off to the park which was one of the most incredible places ever and on the way back we saw a MOOSE having a drink in one of the many puddles just off the road! We could not believe it she was incredible and we just sat and stared for ages as we were mesmerised by the sheer size and grace. Mike too this picture of her, isnt she pretty???

EASTER: Undeterred by our last excusrion Mike and I proceed to DRIVE to Montreal. This is because the 50min flight that was billed as $124CAD is infact $478CAD after takes the train is $428CAD and takes 5 hours, car is 6, How is that for a rail network?? This time Mike takes the added precaution of finding out on google where we are going AND programmes the Sat Nav...Hurrah! so were sitting there in the car when I hear
M:I know the reason you could not find the park
Me: How is it all my fault? (I could sense impending doom)
M: Because Jane, when one is locating a GIGANTIC national park, one at least puts the town the park is located in, for example Algonquin town and not Oakville 
Me: News to me, how am I supposed to know how it works?
M: And you wonder why everyone calls me long suffering
Me: No words, just one of my best grins, saved for such occasions as this!

After a 7 hour drive on Good Friday, we arrive at the hotel Mike has chosen. The reason I say MIKE is that he hates big hotels which is something we have to agree to disagree I mean whats not to love someone makes your bed, feeds you its all bliss. This hotel is a living museum literally I'm not joking here. To complete the scene when we finally convince them we are guests they unlock the front door (clearly not the most friendliest of museums) and welcome us into reception, we have obviously crossed over some magic threshold as they are very pleasant towards us. IN reception is a menagerie of Birds I hate f-ing caged birds and worse than anything on earth I hate Parrots!!!. ALL parrots gravitate towards me they can sense the hatred. There was one huge Blue thing who proceeded to make very strange noises and worst of all again was a African Grey that terrorises all receptionist's by mimicking the phone every time they try and leave the desk! Horrid thing!
All I can say about the hotel is that all the Antique furniture is new, but its not my kind of place. We go out in the evening to a dreadful 80's style Italian restaurant. I always order very simple things in places like this....Mike he orders Chicken Chasseur which when it comes is purple!  We leave immediately and go to a Piano Bar ready to rip into the Martini's. Its very clear to us that apart from our road and the Notre Dame there is bugger all else to do so depression is setting in for our Michael. Therefore what better way to cheer oneself up than to have a Martini? No sooner than we are in there Mike leans over and says "we have to leave" okay I think and proceed to carry on with drink..."we have to leave NOW!" so I finish drink in two and off we go. The singer looked very upset as she clearly thought we didn't like her singing. No sooner as we were out of the door, at least I hope we were out of the door, Mike let off this huge fart and looked at me rather worryingly! I mean whats a girl to do, he's my husband and all that, but there are limits. As if that's not enough he grabs the nearest roadside waste bin and is sick as a pig. He is then very ill ALL of the rest of the night, it was exhausting but I guess that's what you get for eating purple chicken!
The next day Mike is right as rain, so we dodge the Parrots and go off to the museum which in Canadian terms is as old as the hills... for us, most of us know bits of the family tree this far back. we then go into the Cathedral which is outstandingly beautiful. This time I consult my brilliant and beloved travel guide and find us one of the best restaurants we've ever been to!You would never know it was there it was just a door in a wall!
So in short I am very sad to say - don't bother going to Montreal unless going onto somewhere else.

We are clearly not bothered about our rubbish navigational skills as we are off to Muskoka this weekend....will let you know the outcome :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

28th March 2012

Hi Everyone :)

Firstly GREAT news, my sister received her Paddy's day card from us. The reason this is such important news is that the card came with its own green mustache on a lollipop stick! This means she could use it at all Paddy events, so not only is it decorative but extremely useful aswell.  She sent me a photo of her in mid-use of it and if I knew how to upload pictures it would be on here. I think she should tour Ireland with mustache in hand and have herself photographed everywhere!!! :)

I was Skyping with my Mum this morning where we had a lovely long chat, she has to go to her friend Ruth's house as she does not have a laptop/computer - basically denial!!  Anyway lovely Ruth is my Mum's techno chum, she's older than my Mum but is a computer genius and puts all the rest of us to shame, so come on my family hurry up and get going with the computer. My Auntie Jenny is just as bad (my Mums sister) she actually has a computer in her house but doesn't like to use it so hand writes a letter to me. If I am really honest, it was kind of cool to get a hand written letter, I think its a lost art. Personally everyone who gets a letter from me ever will vouch that emails from me are much better because of Spellcheck!! what can I say, I'm a child of the 70's where teaching was practically non existent and all the dopey teachers we did have were trying to be your friend, so in short I never learnt the basics.

Well we have had the most excellent weather bathed in 25 degree sunshine, it lasted for about 6 days and was awesome and unlike when this happened in England its a taste for Summer and whats to come so its very exciting. At all of the houses we have Patios in the back with no garden fencing so its just all one big garden and Patio/terrace at the front, it turns out that nobody ever uses the back unless a lot of family come or neighbours, personally with no fencing how can you ever not have the neighbours everyone will just wander in!? Anyhow they much prefer to use the front Patio so that they can chat to everyone that walks up and down the road and to also nose as everyone else. There is no such thing as shyness in the whole of Canada, everyone and I mean everyone just strikes up conversations with you. Our first G&T binge was on a boiling hot day with our house owners and neighbours which was great this also spilled over into the next day aswell, but I have to say Tash and are still finding this particular concept hard.  We have a terrific bunch of neighbours who collect us at 5.15 prompt as everyone finishes work early on a Friday where we all go off to the pub, its an Irish pub called The Coach and Four. When you first get in there you could do with a pair of those headphones that chaps wear to park the planes, after about 3 glasses of wine you don't seem to notice the din so much, after 7 you are also one of them!! Now its a thing in Canada that one cannot get nibbles anywhere so crisps, peanuts out of the question. The net result of this is that if you are a nibbler you get as pissed as a parrot because its just drink which is something I simply cannot do, ergo since we've been going I've been blotto each week. Mike is laughing his head off as its usually him.  I don't know what I'm going to do, I mean one wants to join in with the troops and all that, but there is going to come a point where they are going to get me a sponsor from AA to accompany me :(

Other news is that Tasha has started work for a wedding events firm. it was really quick one day last week she went to the event fair got chatting to the owner, next thing you  know he creates a job for her and boom, she's in!!!!  Its only her 2nd day of training but she is really enjoying it. I think she is in for the posh weddings which are held right next door in the Marina. She is going to talk to the wedding cake lady to see if she will be prepared to meet with me as I am finding it quite hard to understand all the Canadian ingredients for cakes, who knows she might even let me shadow her. This way I can get valuable experience seeing the cake industry as a business.

I have joined an Aqua fit class, I have a pass and everything. Now you must understand that everything takes all eternity here, so the filling out of a pass would be a 5 Min's job, nah its more like 30 and in short I would have missed my class so they let me in and pay later. When I returned to pay 1.5 hours later having done hair and make up he didn't have a clue who I was!! Cheeky boy!! Suffice to say the class is great fun everyone is so friendly I have made quite a few chummlies, they are mainly a lot older than me but tremendously good fun.

Tomorrow Mikes chum Rob is coming for dinner, so I am preparing for this meal. I have got lots of wines (all Canadian) and something called Canadian Ice Wine which i think is a bit like a chilled port or sherry. I have absolutely no idea when we are supposed to drink it so I'm hoping Rob will tell us. Therefore my next post will be a report on this enormous event!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Oakville March 2012

Well I've left it almost a month to post again as I thought I would give Oakville a good explore first. We were really glad to be out of the apartment as its was a little cramped to say the least. The house is small but in the best location ever, I still cant get over trotting out 20 paces to the Lakeshore! Most mornings Tasha and I go for a walk round the marina and harbour. Its magical and I cant imagine ever tiring of it.

Well the owners of this house are a lovely couple and we get on very well with them, its a shame really that they don't live next door or something. They now own a fabulous B&B in Port Delousi which is like a Canadian Henley.

Tasha and I have a car now so we go zooping off somewhere most days. I have to say somewhere because most of the time I don't have the first idea where we are going? Poor Tasha I keep yelling left/right with no real idea of where we are. Honestly to say I am a member of 'Where the f**krwe tribe' has to be the understatement of the century!!!!!. Apparently I have now started to navigate alone in the malls, I always get lost and Tasha is a nervous wreck by the time shes found me. Its most unsettling as I could be gone for days when she gets a job :( The problem is everywhere looks the same, there are no reference points for me to go by unlike old Blighty.  As Tasha tells everyone she knew the problem was bad but nothing like as bad as the real thing :(

Anyway suffice to say we have now done most of the malls, they are excellent all of them, unfortunately I couldn't tell you which one I like better as I cant remember, but I do know they are all good. The place I do love the most is Oakville town itself its really fantastic and has everything you ever need.  There is a Melonhead which is a child's hairdressing salon where they get to sit in planes and spaceships to get their hair cut, a psychic reading shop, great butcher/fishmonger, restaurants, clothes shops honestly the list is endless.

We have been to Niagara Falls in the day and night, god in heaven its awesome. For some reason you feel compelled to throw yourself over and into the falls, I don't know why but its weird. We have not been on the maid of the mist boat as that doesn't start until Easter.

We have been to Buffalo basically for no other reason than because we can :) its about 1.5 hours away and means we drive into America, what we didn't realise is that we would be held at Customs for 1.5 hours as we did not have the green card that a plane gives you! So had to wait a-g-e-s. Anyway when you get to the Galleria its all duty free for us so its work a visit, that's unless your with The Nationwide then its total crap because they stop your card as a safety measure!!!! But get out before nightfall as that seems to be when the Gangsters shop!

Tasha has joined a gym and is doing all sorts of classes, well being a goddess does mean upkeep. I have joined a Aqua class and am the youngest by at least 500 years, they are very sweet and I'm amazed everyone keeps up, well that's what I thought but Tasha said that all they were doing was getting in the middle and talking, the teacher loved us as we were the only 2 people listening to her!!! However now I've been here a month I am resolved to join other things now in Oakville, at the moment its something called Spring Break which basically means everyone is off. Personally I think its an extended Paddy's Day celebration with a couple extra thrown in for hangover purposes!

Just had to interrupt the flow because my lovely neighbour Yvonne has just skyped me, I miss her sooooooooo much. Skyping is a bitter sweet thing really as you are overjoyed to see family and friends then really sad when its all over :( But I have been able to speak to Sam and see Layla and Harvey each week which has meant the world to me. I've also Skyped with Campbells and Mothies which have been hilarious are they are usually 14 bottles of fizz down and its late afternoon for us so its really funny.

Anyway bye for now will start to blog much more regularly from now on....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Leaving the City 28th Feb 2012

Well last night in the city!  I thought Tasha and I would be quite morose but were not, the aparment has been amazing but we feel like battery hens now and are looking forward to getting to the house.

First new is that Mike made it back, Christ that was a really weird week. Mike got detained by immigration for 2 hours trying to get back in and ONLY at this point did it occur to him he might not make it!! The paperwork was not filled in correctly. Thank god this is Canada and not USA otherwise he would have just been shipped back on the next plane no questions asked!!! 
During the week he was away, Tasha and I didn't hang about. We went to the Avena Hair school and had a fab old time, with head massages and different oils with eventually a wash cut and blow dry. Then we went to see War Horse and took Nancy who is Mikes work colleague. She is really nice and we had such a lovely evening. Before I digress with the remaining part of the story, I need to precede it with Mike advising me Canadian drivers are really c-r-a-p. I think he clearly underestimated the entire situation!!  First of all the car could not be found, now this is not like my sister or myself loosing the car you understand, this is SERIOUS loosing of the car, Tasha and I blindly follow not saying anything, wondering if we will ever come out alive as did strangely enough another completely bewildered older Canadian couple. It would seem as though you can park a car, but the reality of retrieving it ever are slim to none!  Maybe this is why the restaurants encourage free parking its because they can sell off the cars at the end of the night :), anyhow I digress. Car is eventually found, if I'd known what was to come I would have happily looked for it all night long!  Anyhow, lovely Nancy insists of giving us a lift home,  so we're in the car when I see a car not slowing at all and headed directly towards my door! I try to alert Nancy by screaming at the top of my lungs NANCY>>>CAR!!!! at which point Nancy advies very calmly to Tasha and I that she has ran a red light an is always doing it! The stupefying look on the other drivers face means that he too is caught in a headlight moment and cant move/slow down either. My innards turn to liquid and I make a silent prayer to God for making wear black trousers!!! More is to come.... Nancy proceeds to  Larkeshore which Tasha and I feel is at least in the right direction and hey its away from the city so how bad can it be?? After much pleading from the once silent Tasha that we actually do live in an apartment right on the harbour, Nancy makes a right and drops us half way UP the slip road entrance to one of Canada's biggest motorways!!! I still wake now with thoughts of a huge truck turning right and crashing into two woman walking back down the slope..............

Back to walking because the next day is snow, not snow like England where the entire country comes to a halt, this is snow where you can mislay your hand! This sort of snow produces a lot of noise from Mike,Tasha and I, but is brushed off by the Canadians as a small flurry!!! Tasha and I go see a Basketball game, we figure we will be okay as we know Netball. I tell you people GO its only $12 and it the best entertainment ever. Its not like seeing the Yankees when they stop play for an advert its as boring as bum, here the Raptors do stop but there is shows, games, rah rah girls in between. Tasha won a TShirt courtesy of my face! They catapult them into the audience, I was watching the Mexican wave at the time and it hit me side on in my face and Tasha caught it...shimples :)

After the other nights previous encounter it would be hard to see how I could ever take to the wheel, but take to it I did. I figured 'How bad can I be??' so we went well after everyone went to work and I drove to a Mall people!!! Its not nearly as bad as being a passenger as you constantly feel the steering wheel is missing, you just have to drive like Mr.Magoo this means doing your own thing without a care in the world for any other driver!!

I'm hoping Oakville will be a bit more calmer on this front. No Internet until March 3rd so Tasha will have to talk to me now....every cloud and all that :)