As I step into the canoe I am all too aware of 14-kilometer trip I have agreed to and I reflect on the wisdom of my willingness to try something new… I have a tendency to do that.
14 kilometres, with nothing but the power of our arms and our determination to get us there. We set off on the clear, still water with the heat of the sun warming our backs.
We hear nothing, absolutely nothing but the rhythmic plop, swoosh, plop, swoosh, plop, swoosh as our paddles propel us on our journey. We are so far from civilization there is no sound whatsoever and for the first time ever I appreciate the term silence is deafening. It is so quiet my ears buzz.
As we take a turn in the river we stop paddling to stare in awe of our surroundings.
The pine trees rise sharply from the edge of the still water to meet the cobalt blue sky and the image is mirrored exactly in the perfectly calm water.
The quintessential Canadian landscape.
A perfect reflection.
I reflect on the change in my life. The Essex girl from a small rural village and I’m here, in Canada not just living but thriving in these breathtaking surroundings.
As we paddle in harmony we make small, subconscious, almost undetectable adjustments to our strokes so that we are paddling in unison, pulling together in the same direction.
Synchronization is the key to get us to the same destination at the same time, with the least amount of wasted energy.
I reflect on how this afternoon’s adventure is a metaphor for our lives.
Working in harmony, together to achieve our goal with a determination to persevere.
Brut strength, sheer bloody mindedness and a view of the destination will get us to where we want to be.
We step on to the shore at the end of our journey and reflect on our achievement.
It was hard work and our arms and backs ache but when was anything worthwhile easy to accomplish?
And most importantly we made it,
All too often these days our mornings start out like this
Here in Toronto we are still in the grips of winter so my mornings are somewhat different to normal, my morning walks have become quite infrequent as freezing my backside off has completely lost it’s appeal. However, if I do decide to brave the frigid temperature to pop out for a very brief walk I am rewarded with beautiful sights like this.
Expat Experience – The Unexpected Challenge
When moving from the UK to Canada the one thing I never expected was a language barrier English is the first language here after all but it’s there and is evident on a daily basis.
We all grew up watching American TV shows and you soon pick up on the odd words that are different rubbish/garbage lift/elevator pavement/sidewalk but I have discovered the language barrier is subtler than that, many words that you would use every day in the UK aren’t used at all. My husband uses ‘reckon’ frequently and this is one of those words that is never used here, in fact as we are from East London/Essex and occasionally use slang words several people thought it not a real word at all.
Simple every day interactions, such as discussing the time, highlight differences in language, Canadians will use ‘after’ instead of ‘past’ (eg. it’s 10 after 6) and although if you said it was 10 past 6 they would know what you meant it just sounds odd.
My accent, even though I have been told is not particularly strong, is regularly a source of frustration when people don’t understand what I’m saying and I find myself dreading having to make phone calls as I know it will be painfully difficult to make myself understood. I have totally given up using the drive thru option if I want to grab a coffee at my local Tims because yelling my order fifteen times at the top of my lungs emphasizing a different part of the word each time is extremely irritating!
Being the ‘woman with the British accent’ singles me out from others, it makes me feel different and draws unwanted attention to myself which I don’t like but and it’s a big but I don’t want to change who I am or lose my identity which can come as a result of moving to a different culture.
3 Tips to help you cope with an unexpected language barrier
Learn the lingo – if the locals call it a cell phone then you call it a cell phone, saying mobile phone may make you feel frightfully British but it will always make you seem like an outsider. Listen to the words the locals use and use them but don’t try to say them like they do as that comes across as sounding fake.
Enunciate – we all have a tendency to mumble at times, especially when we get comfortable in our surroundings, we use colloquialisms and speak too fast. Try no to do that, slow down and speak clearly.
Ask questions – if someone says something you don’t understand or uses a phrase you’ve never heard just ask them to clarify it. Don’t try to pretend you understand if you don’t to try to save face, it could lead you into all sorts of trouble if you have misunderstood.
This was my Silent Sunday yesterday, It’s a pier a few miles from where I live.
I decided to check it out after chatting with a couple I met down at the lake a few weeks ago, we were competing for the ideal location to photograph the ice when the man asked me if I ever went to take photos at the pier. I hadn’t been there before so on Monday morning with camera in
hand glove I set out for a wander.
I couldn’t get that close to the pier because, as well as the -18C wind-chill, the whole place was a sheet of ice. It was blowing a hooly and keeping upright was a challenge especially for someone as clumsy as me.
I have no idea if this kind of ice build up is normal or if it’s the result of the exceptionally cold winter we have been having this year. To put things into perspective we have had 84 consecutive days of snow cover and the 14 days forecast doesn’t show any signs of a significant warm up. The last record of 79 days was set in 1977. The City of Toronto has declared 31 extreme cold weather alerts so far this winter, which is the most we have had since the current alert system began.
I’ve had enough of the cold now and am getting sick of posting icy photos, the first ones were an incredible 13 weeks ago, Spring cannot come quick enough!
It’s time to come clean and confess our guilty pleasures in this weeks Gallery
My name’s Lou and I’m a Nailoholic…
I confess my obsession with nail polish, yes I know it’s shallow, vain, unproductive and a waste of time but I don’t care! I love buying nail varnish and painting my nails, I’ve been known to change my nail colour several times a week if it doesn’t go with what I’m wearing. I have over 50 different colours and haven’t had bare nails for as long as I can remember. Whether I’m at home, shopping, camping, canoeing, swimming…well you get the picture, I do it all with perfectly painted , coordinating nail colour.
There, I feel so much better for sharing!
When my hubbie (then Fiancé) suggested we went camping for a week back in September 1993 I was happy to embrace a new experience. Little did I know what this week had in store for me.
I was nineteen, I took a week off work, we borrowed my dad’s car and headed off to Wookey Hole in Somerset in a two-man dome tent bought in the sales, some foam to sleep on, a singe gas ring to cook and little else. Hubbie had camped most of his life with his Mum but I always stayed in Caravans and the closest I had gotten to canvas was a trailer tent. Unprepared is not the word.
The first night was pretty good, we heated a tin of ravioli and after driving all day and went to sleep on our extremely uncomfortable 15mm thick foam mattresses. The following day started OK, we went into the caves and museum at Wookey Hole but by the time we had finished exploring it had stared to rain and didn’t stop for any significant period of time for the following 5 days! Suddenly camping didn’t seem like such a good idea.
To be truthful we had a great week exploring Somerset. We went adventure caving in Cheddar Gorge,
explored Glastonbury Abbey which I loved as I was a little obsessed with the legend of King Arthur!
We got down with the Hippies on top of Glastonbury Tor, I remember hearing one say ‘Can you feel the vibes, Man?”!
But the camping was awful, the constant rain meant the bottom 12 inches of our bed was constantly soaked and we ended up taking our camping stove into the site bathroom so we could heat up some tinned food for dinner in the dry.
When we packed up to go home I remember saying I would never go camping again. As the saying goes “never say never” but it did take hubbie 9 years to convince me to try it again but the next time I was determined to be prepared and have the best equipment money could buy and learned from my experiences – having a comfortable, dry, warm bed is the key to any successful camping trip!
Here we are 20 years later having camped in the most amazing places across three continents and I’ve never looked back.
You wont believe it but we got to 5C yesterday, awesome! The consequence is that we have two massive storms building in the west which are going to cause all sorts of problems tonight and tomorrow followed by another blast of arctic air which, apparently will stay put through the beginning of March. I’m going to forget about all that and focus on the fact that I went out yesterday without my coat and snow boots for the first time in about 12 weeks and the sky was brilliant blue, the sun was shining and that makes me happy, even if it is short lived.
I noticed yesterday that when we got up in the morning it was starting to get light at around 6.30 and it doesn’t get dark until around 6pm. I know it’s still February and I’m clutching at straws a bit but the longer days are a reason to be cheerful surely.
I had a proud mummy moment when youngest son brought home his school report yesterday, it described him as kind and helpful and said “he has amazing technological skills and possess a strong moral compass”. I couldn’t ask for more.
As much as we try not to wish our lives away, I can’t help but get very excited for the Spring and Summer as we’ve stared booking our camping trips. So far we have booked for the May long weekend and 8 days in July. Both are places we have not visited before and the first one has a regular bear sightings, which excites and terrifies me simultaneously! Bring on Spring, I can’t wait!
So that’s four reasons to be cheerful this week, how many do you have?