I felt it was time for a self-indulgent update to let people know what I have been up to for the last few months and to talk about some of the cool things we have been doing in this wonderful city.
Recently, I have been trying to write about things that people who don’t know me personally might be interested in reading, but it comes to a certain point when you just want to say “hey, this is what I’ve been doing with my days, thanks for asking.”
This is winter
Being in the midst of our first Canadian winter, with temperatures that have dropped as low as -40 degrees with wind chill and a pretty bad ice storm which hit and knocked out power to half of the city, I should probably start with the weather.
I had never even heard of an ice storm or freezing rain until a few weeks ago, the icon which appeared on the weather app on my iPhone was completely new to me and baffled me completely. Turns out, both are a pretty big deal. The ice on the tree branches made them so heavy that they were snapping off and damaging houses and knocking out power lines, which meant some people were without heating and power over Christmas and had to move to hotels or stay with family and friends. Luckily, we were unaffected and we were so grateful for that.
The Canadian winter does have its plus side though, firstly, the ice storm was so pretty;
Secondly, we are now the proud owners of ice skates. I absolutely love ice skating and used to go to an indoor rink when I was younger every now and again. But skating on an outdoor rink, right next to a frozen Lake Ontario and under the lights of the city and the CN Tower is something else entirely.
Earlier in the autumn, Matt and I took advantage of a day off work and drove out to Niagara Falls. I had visited it a few times when I was younger, but Matt had never been before. Being a Monday in October, it was relatively quiet in Niagara Falls and we were able to wander around, take some pictures and then we decided to cross the border into the US. We probably shouldn’t, considering the US border control kept us for 2 hours at the border as they had no record of our ESTA visa waiver and we had to wait and ultimately pay for a new one. By the time we got through into the states, we did a u-turn and headed back to Canada! But, hey, we got a stamp in the old passport for the trouble.
Something you should make sure you do if you are in Toronto is visit the Steam whistle brewery at The Roundhouse and take one of their brewery tours. For $15, you get a tour of the brewery, 2 samples of beer, a bottle of beer to take round with you and a 6 pack to take home. Not bad at all! And the tour is excellent, as is the beer. They provide you with headphones and the tour guide has a microphone so you can hear everything that is being explained, even in the noisy factory. The first time we took the tour, we didn’t know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised. When my family came to visit over Christmas, we took them again and this time, I knew what was coming. When they asked for a volunteer, my hand shot straight up and I was picked to pull the lever and set off the steam whistle!! Such a child.
Christmas came and went
Christmas was a time of much activity, and the first Christmassy thing I did was to hit the Christmas markets in the Distillery District with my lovely girls. It was beautiful and magical and all the other things you expect for a Christmas market, along with being soooo cold! So much so that we bailed early and ended up in a bar to get warm. There are some pretty pictures though.
The 23rd December saw the arrival of my dad and brother for the Christmas period and Christmas was a blur of family activity and shenanigans. Christmas day was spent at my aunt’s house and there were 26 people for Christmas dinner, New Year’s Eve was spent with Indian food, board games, lots of red wine and a family sing along. Along with that, we had many meals out, went shopping, went to Niagara Falls again but this time also took in Niagara on the Lake, had family parties, went ice skating, went to watch the Toronto Marlies ice hockey team and generally just ate, drank and were merry.
More recently, I hit the hat-trick of sporting events by going to watch the basketball and saw Toronto Raptors v Milwaukee Bucks. We were also treated to the unveiling of Jermaine Defoe at the Raptors game as he has signed for Toronto FC and I thought it was particularly funny that the announcer called him Willem Defoe. Along with the Blue Jays and the Marlies I have now seen baseball, hockey and basketball. I might get deported if I said which of the three is my favourite and which is bottom of the list, so I’ll leave that to you to decide.
And a new addition…
But perhaps the most important thing of the last few months is that I became an aunt to my beautiful nephew Aiden David. We have had lots of Skype chats and blown kisses but I won’t get to see him until March when he will be 3 months old already, one of the downfalls of being an expat I suppose.
There are lots of other things I have been doing to occupy my time but I will avoid boring you with the finer details. These things included; Thanksgiving with my family, hanging out with friends, volunteering (which turned into working, a separate blog will follow), wedding planning and crafting (again, another blog to follow), all the Christmas crafts I previously detailed, a meal at the top of the CN Tower, my birthday, watching Downton Abbey on Netflix, trying to hit the gym 5 times per week, having my first Canadian eye test where they dilated my pupils so I looked like a heavy drug user and had a sensitivity to light and, of course, various trips to the dollar store.
So, things are going well and we have thoroughly enjoyed our first 6 months in Toronto. Now you are caught up with a lot of the things we have been doing with ourselves and I am sure you are very grateful for that!
I think I should end this blog with another embarrassing elevator escapade, as I know people enjoy those after the magazine debacle. So, I got in the elevator along with two guys. As I was the first one in, I asked which floor they wanted and the first guy said 5, so I pressed 5 for his floor and 6 for mine. The second guy also said 5, or so I thought, so I carried on looking at my phone, thinking all was well. When the doors opened on floor 5, the first guy got out and the second guy meekly leaned across me and pressed the 9 button. Turns out, he didn’t say 5 he said 9. So, basically, I asked him what floor he wanted and then completely ignored his answer. Why do I get myself into these situations? And why must I see the guys time and time again afterwards, in the lobby, in the gym…