Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Christmas Christmas!

Well, as I sit waiting for the soup to simmer to perfection, watching the first snow storm of the year out the window, I thought I'd better update this as waiting for Paul to blog is like waiting for me to mop the floor!

We are full into Christmas mode now, spending as many evenings as possible sat by the fire in our dressing gowns, sipping whisky and writing Christmas cards which have little to no chance of arriving on time (sorry!). We've been making an effort to attend festive event, so a brief round up so far:

The Ballet

I went to my first ballet at the start of the month, The Nutcracker at The NAC. My friend Sarah managed to get student rate tickets, and although we forgot to wear our pearls, or posh frocks, we got pretty good seats and enjoyed the show. I can't say that ballet will now be top of my list of theatre treats, I'll always be a mystery/thriller/musical girl at heart, but it was definitely a festive way to start the month.

Tree cutting Party

Last weekend we were invited to a tree-cutting party at a friend of our friend Tara. We headed off the farm where we were welcomed with lots of home-cooked food, mulled wine and hot cider. The plan was to cut down a tree for Tara, but Paul soon wanted one of his own too!

Not sure why he's giving it such a shifty look!
We spent the afternoon stuffing our faces, mainly on perogies which are a new-found favourite I may have to dabble with over Christmas.


Not really an 'event' to attend, but the snow is well and truly here, with storm warnings today and schools closed. Shovelling the steps is now on the daily to do list - in fact today it'll be two or three times. Sadly the shovel slipped over at some point this morning and is now buried so the first task is to find it!
Jasper seems to be enjoying the white stuff, he gets his new booties at the weekend and has a jacket en route from England (thankyou!) so will be quite the dapper gentleman. For now he seems to be wagging his tail to keep warm:

Still to come we have Christmas dinner at friends this weekend, including a boys v girls wii fit tournament apparently - cameras will not be allowed! Then a barber shop Christmas concert the following weekend.

In the meantime I have Paul's Christmas-dalek blanket to finish, and we are slowly decorating the tree, which although it smells lovely is a little sparse at the moment.

right, best take jasper out before its too deep to see him!
Happy Christmas everyone. x

Saturday, 14 November 2009

pressing the red button.....

A busy busy week this week. Already I find it difficult to work out how I managed to fit life around having a full-time job (or part-time job in my case!). Thankfully Paul got to join in the fun this week as he had a day off on Wednesday (Nov 11th is a 'bank holiday' for government employees in Canada). We visited Diefenbunker a cold war bunker just outside Carp. I've mentioned our visit to several Canadian friends since. Those who have heard of it had images of the one or two room bunkers built for ten or so people, figuring there would be room for the PM and a few advisers. In reality it is a 4 story underground complex, 100,000 square feet in all.
As usual I fail to retain most facts and figures, but did find the tour fascinating. This was mainly due to the excellent guide with his tales of illegal moonshine being brewed in the kitchens and hidden in the ceiling vents, and stop offs at the bunker morgue and escape hatches. Strangely it felt more like being on a submarine or ship than underground - obviously I have vast submarine experience - how I would cope for 30 days cooped up down there I don't know.

The rest of the week included trips to Canadian Tire (a blender! soup production can start again); an evening at ignite ; the last hike of the season with the Thursday morning hikers; all-you-can eat sushi and of course knitting. Today there will be no strenuous activity as my ribs and right buttock ache from being let loose with an axe and saw at the wildlife garden yesterday afternoon - I think I need to work on my technique!

Onto knitting socks and hats have finally reached sister Wendy (not the art-critic nun, my twin-laden sibling), and Canadian-cuddly toys are en route to others. My festive knits are on hold while I finish a pair of mittens for myself as the cold sets in. Only one afternoon of snow so far but its getting frostier and the pond was frozen at the wildlife garden this week - hopefully the beaver was well prepared! Paul's dalek themed blanket may or may not be finished in time, but as he is still waiting for the jumper from last christmas he won't be shocked if I don't get it done!

Still taking lots and lots of piccies, for more (including jasper on the balcony!) see flickr, for now here is the sundog I saw whist walking his nibs last week. x

Monday, 26 October 2009

ten things we've observed about life in Canada

....some observations. you can decide for yourselves whether each one counts as a pro or con....

1. It seems that I enjoy cooking in Canada.
2. We have seen skunks, chipmunks, otters, raccoons and groundhogs all within five
minutes of home.
3. There is no postal delivery on Saturdays in Canada.
4. Halloween is much more popular out here.
5. Canadians whinge about the weather at least as much as the British.
6. Wool is cheaper in Canada.
7. It is harder to give family and friends hugs from overseas.
8. Paul now spends up to five hours a day at weekends sat on the balcony watching the
world go by.
9. David Gray is big in Canada.
10. English accents are exotic here - even mine!

that is all. x

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Autumn....oops - Fall!

Eek its almost two months we've been here now. Reports from home suggest we left the sunshine back in the UK. We seemed to have moved from one country famed for its weather obsession - to one even more so! The warnings about the inclement winter come thick and fast - time will tell how much is fact and how much exaggeration!

For now it is changeable. Generally warm but odd showers to keep you on your toes, no great change! The autumn colours are stunning and inspire lots of photos - Jasper is gradually becoming accustomed to me stopping for a spot of photography after so long waiting for Paul! This weeks I have been mostly photographing fungi....if that floats your boat head to flickr.

Jasper seems to have overcome his illness of last week and has now caught my squirrel obsession and spends a large proportion of his day sat on the balcony trying to spot them - when they spot him they sit in the trees and tell him off - very funny!

The mammal count has rocketed this week, with another Beaver spot yesterday afternoon, no piccies but both of us saw it so witness testimony. Then on return from the cinema we saw our first skunk! I thought they were dainty little things - they are huge! This one could have happily taken Jasper on....too many Pepe le Pew cartoons as a child I think.

So, October rolls on, I've been off on knitting adventures into the countryside (see flickr again), we've been exploring the local parks and Paul's been ordering computer gadgetry! Another three day weekend coming up, and our first Thanksgiving - another food-based celebration woohoo! For now, more gourd shots from the market to leave you with autumnal colours once again....

Friday, 25 September 2009

Jet lagged pooch

His royal highness Jasper has arrived safe and sound in Canada, and I met him at the airport yesterday - he was mildly pleased to see me, but much more excited about the squirrel chasing opportunities that Ottawa has to offer....
He is also jet lagged, and I was walking him round the park at 1:30am, and Paul at 4:00am - what larks! He is now patiently waiting for me to get my act together and take him out again - at least its daylight now!

In other news we are very settled in our new apartment (for piccies see flickr and I am managing to get dinner on the table so Paul is still smiling....

Not sure what the weekend holds for us - so far I have a pyjama party tonight while Paul is out on the town with the boys (?!), and possibly wall-climbing tomorrow....there may or may not be photos later!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009


We have moved!
I baked cookies.
No internet for a little while.
That is all. x

Friday, 11 September 2009

Volunteering and making it into the paper!

Well, yesterday marked a month since we arrived, so I decided it was probably best that I broadened my horizons, signing myself up to some activities other than knitting! I registered at the Ottawa School of Art for an etching/printing course which starts on Weds 15th - my shopping list includes a sketch book and rubber gloves.... not being a natural artist there is little I find more intimidating than a blank sketch book, maybe I'll do some fingerpainting to get me going. I may share my 'successes' at a later date....

Then this morning I finally made it to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden which I found online back in June. They have a volunteer session every Friday morning which I was made very welcome at, and I have been asked to look after the pond while its regular attendee is away - I did warn them reportedly that I know next to nothing about gardening and will need the weeds identifying so I don't pull up anything precious. Plenty of fellow birdwatchers too who helped me identify the garden visitors, proper views of northern cardinal and blue jay at last, along with yellow warbler and rose-breasted grosbeak. We also saw a bird of prey swoop past which we decided was probably a northern much easier when someone else is doing the identifying.
Anyway, I'll be back in search of the pileated woodpecker next week - mainly because of its resemblance to woody woodpecker from the cartoon!

My bird-watching antics have also led to a mention in The Ottawa Citizen.....Paul and I set each other 'get your names published' challenges a couple of years ago and this is my first victory! (He meanwhile has published several geeky-science articles....but at least I'm on the scoreboard now!).

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Getting dinner on the table

This week Paul has started work, and I am slaving away behind a hot stove.....and wool shopping....and reading books....and exploring the city.....but dinner is on the table so all is well.

Friday, 28 August 2009

folk off

Our first taste of the music scene in Ottawa was pretty special, a fine day spent in the park at Britannia Bay, in the sun, listening to some folk at the Ottawa Folk Festival. We arrived just in time for the morning Ukulele Jam, swiftly followed by some beautiful (and mostly improvised) Music to Garden By and the unexpectedly great uke-cello duos, led by James Hill and Victoria Vox. You haven't lived until you've heard the uke-cello cover of Psycho Killer by Talking Heads. No, really.

My favourite moments of the day were probably from the saxaphone and flute of Linsey Wellman, very much in the avant/free jazz style of John Coltrane. He played two incredible solo pieces as part of the Life in Japan workshop, it really was music to disappear into.

Special mention also goes to the Balloon Orchestra, a group with instruments made from (yes) balloons. They avoided going a bit Stomp by innovations such as the balloon bass, complete with pick-up, and generally stayed firmly in the good part of "experimental".

We left before the headline acts (but after the majestic sunset over the bay), all a bit too mainstream folk rock/country for us dabblers in the experimental and traditional end of the genre. But play me squeeze box, rag time, uke-cello, hoe-down, jug band, electric cello, gourd, guitar, zither, shamisen, shakuhachi flute and the rest anytime!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

rollerblades and farm parks

Off he goes....

Paul has made his first big purchase, not a contribution to his digital empire, but a replacement pair of roller-blades, which have made him a happy boy indeed. We looked around a department store (his biggest fear), before we returned to the sports shop (yes, they let us in to a sports shop, twice!), and he even made conversation with the sales attendants. The man can shop when motivated. Then off to the park to roll away, leaving me alone - to knit on a bench overlooking the river where we spotted a beaver the other day. We even managed to catch an innings or so of a baseball match (if anyone can explain the difference between this and rounders please - apart from much more protective clothing).

We've had a lazy week - no surprises there. Lots of meandering around parks from tree to tree for frequent naps and book reading. I've made it through three out of four library books, fulfilling my thirst for bad murder mysteries....they even have a 'if you like Agatha Christie you'll like this' section - bliss. We also ventured out to the experimental farm hoping to find a replacement for the White Post Modern Farm Park back home.....a few too many tractors for my liking, although Paul enjoyed the interactive tractor driving:

and I got to stroke the new born calves:

we then wandered around the arboretum, more bird spotting (see flickr) and napping - rock and roll as ever.
We are off to a gallery event on Saturday - it doesn't start til 8pm which is pretty close to bed-time so will be a shock to the system. Then Paul starts work on monday, and I am left alone to fend for myself -eek!

Back he comes:

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

cycling to gatineau parc

We hired bikes.

It is four + years since I have been on a bike, and I am a nervy rider. But we hired them anyway, and headed towards Gatineau Parc, and I loved it (hence the very cheesy grin!).
We did make some classic mistakes though - like thinking if a sign says 'pink lake' it means 'this is the most direct and straightforward route to pink lake' instead of 'this is the twisty, mountain bike suitable route which will take you an extra 2 hours because you will have to push your delicate little hire bikes through the mosquito ridden woods'. A simple mistake to make. Thankfully the lake was worth it..

and we ate our sandwiches and spotted terrapins swim by, along with some prehistoric looking tadpoles.
All followed by a brisk ride back along the nice tarmacked path, home to a nice cuppa - and to nurse the 14 mosquito bites on my shoulders.

Sunday, 23 August 2009


There are many mosquitoes in Ottawa.

We are in Canadia - yes we are.

It is only two weeks since we arrived and as we sit to write this we now can't decide where to start!
We are here.
We made a five year plan to get to Canada, and 8 years later we made it. More by luck than judgement as with everything in our lives, but here nonetheless.

So, what news....
We arrived on Aug 10th and checked in for a few days at L'Auberge du Marche which as Paul had assured me before hand served top notch breakfasts - the best French Toast! Thoroughly recommend staying here to anyone who is not already planning to use our spare room.
We have spent much of our time meandering round the city. Paul now has a detailed city map imprinted in his brain although as usual if you spin me round I still have no idea which way home is (OK, that's true even without the spinning!).

We are now in our first apartment, overlooking the river and Gatineau, Quebec. We're here until September 15th when we move into a more permanent address in New Edinburgh (one of the poshest districts in Ottawa according to the paper yesterday....not sure they realise who they are letting move in).