3 year Expat Anniversary

We arrived in Canada 3 years ago last Sunday .

3 whole years… it’s hard to comprehend that it has been that long since we said goodbye to our loved ones and drove out of our hometown for the last time. Time flies and all that.

I always get a bit reflective this time of year as I reminisce about our final months in England. I still miss my family and friends as much as I did at the beginning but I suppose I am more in a state of acceptance these days, I have learned to live day to day without seeing them all the time or even communicating with them for months on end.

friendship

I have made friends here in Canada but I am not anywhere near as close to them as I am to my English friends. Part of that is because we don’t share a common background, I never realized how important shared experiences were in a relationship until I didn’t have it.

But it’s not all doom and gloom, far from it in fact. These past three years have taught me more about myself than I even knew, I’ve seen places that I never imagined, adventured into the great unknown and come out of it as a stronger person.

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Our family is more close-knit than ever before as we face the twists and turns of expat life together.  And yet it stills feels like we are right at the start of our journey, new experiences and new places are still an everyday occurrence. Every July when we celebrate another year in Canada we are in a different situation than we were the year before as our lives are constantly evolving.

As we go into our fourth year as expats things will continue to change, this year will see the start of our application for Canadian Citizenship, our youngest son graduates from elementary school and will go to high school and Hubbie, who is in a permanent state of “itchy feet”, hopefully will make a decision about what he wants to do in his career.

Who knows what the next 12 months have in store for us but no doubt it will be as much of a rollercoaster ride as the last three years have been…buckle up!

 

Alphabet Photo – J is for Jetty

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I am getting in at the 11th hour with my latest Alphabet Photography Project entry as we were away camping last week.

During our holiday we spent many, many hours on this jetty as Hubbie and youngest son have recently developed a passion for fishing.

I couldn’t help but smile when I looked up to see the pair of them standing in the exact same pose, totally absorbed on their floats, waiting for a bite.

Joining in with the Alphabet Photography Project by Charly at PODcast

The Gallery – The Great Outdoors

One thing we have plenty of here in Canada is the great outdoors, about 9.9 million square kilometres of it to be precise, all ripe for exploring :-D

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We’ve always been quite an outdoorsy family but since we moved to Canada we have been able to take it to a whole new level.

This is Hubbie on our first portage with our new canoe.  The idea is that you paddle as far along a lake as you can until you reach the end, then you get out carry the canoe to the next lake and carry on.

This type of outdoors isn’t cut grass and manicured flower beds with primroses standing to attention in neat little colour coordinated rows. This outdoors is nature at it’s best, wild and rugged, the type that sorts the men from the boys and the princesses from the tough girls, (although I will admit to wincing when I got black swamp goop all over my pretty pink pedicure!)

 

Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Alphabet Photo – I is for Idyllic

Idyllic is a very subjective adjective, for some it conjures images of white sand and blue sea, for others it’s side by side designer shops and a credit card ;-)
but this is my idea of idyllic…

 

Canoe

A little escapism in the canoe away from noise and technology with nothing but the power of our arms to propel us through the meandering river to see what we will find around the next corner. Calm waters, blue skies and warm sunshine, who could ask for more?

 

Joining in with the Alphabet Photography Project by Charly at PODcast

Camping in Presqu’ile Provincial Park

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Seeing as we didn’t have a long weekend we decided to stay closer to home on our next camping adventure.  Presqu’ile Provincial park is a little over an hour outside the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) so it’s ideal for a brief Friday to Sunday jaunt.  Although like most parks that are near a major metropolitan area, the park tends to be busy and noisy and the sites are not as private as those further afield.

This site was not going to work for us

This site was not going to work for us

I originally booked us into a a site that turned out to be completely unusable but the park staff were great and moved us to a much better site without any fuss at all.

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My favourite part of the weekend was the marsh boardwalk trail, a short 1.2km hike out through the marsh which provides a myriad of photographic opportunities :-D

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An interesting thing about Prequ’ile are all these so called ‘horse trees’.

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They are white cedars thought to have grown in this odd shape due to some near catastrophic weather event around 120 years ago.

There are lots of hikes and bike trails to explore in Presqu’ile but we just weren’t here long enough to see them all, which gives us a perfect reason to return :-)

 

Camping in Killbear Provincial Park

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On the May long weekend this year we headed north to Killbear Provincial Park on the shores of Georgian bay for our first camping trip of 2014.

We were very excited to get under canvas again after such a long winter but were a little disappointed with the near zero forecast for the weekend.  Spring was arriving late and although we had full on sunshine all weekend it was very chilly at night.

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I did my research and picked a site right across from the beach and I think we probably had one of the best in the campground.  Unfortunately many of the trees in the park have been blighted by disease leaving many of the sites very bare, that combined with the late onset of spring meant the whole park looked a little sad with fallen trees and flooded sites, we definitely didn’t see it at it’s best.  I’m sure in the height of summer when the trees are in full leaf it is very beautiful.

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The rocky shores of Georgian bay makes the whole area very picturesque and the 3.5km  Lookout Point trail is well worth the hour and a half trek to see the gorgeous view over the bay.

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The weather dominated our weekend and we didn’t explore very far afield as we didn’t want to stray too far from the fire so I’d love to go back for another visit when it’s a bit warmer!  Killbear is quite well known for it’s abundance of wildlife including deer and bear and although we saw evidence of them we didn’t spot a single one, they probably wanted to stay sheltered in the warm too! :-)

 

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Expat Experience – Spotlight on…Ontario Provincial Parks

I am delighted that Molly @ The Move to America has brought back the Expat Experience link up which gives us Expats bloggers a chance to share our thoughts and opinions on the country we now call home. This week our theme is the top places we have visited so I decided to share my favourite Provincial Parks… so far.

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We love camping as a family and it has been a fantastic way to get out and enjoy the ‘real Canada’. Every time we go we visit a different park and try to explore as much of the surrounding area as possible. Each park is different and has it’s own identity defined by the surrounding terrain, they are mainly in forests and alongside a body of water but are varied in their size and the facilities available. At this point I should mention that I always check Mycampsitereview.com for first hand experiences of a park and recommendations of the best sites.

 

No. 3 Fairbank Provincial Park

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Fairbank makes my number 3 spot because of its location.   Miles from anywhere it is ideally situated for stargazing, the night sky is breathtaking. The lake is also beautifully clear and warm and perfect for swimming and lazy days on the beach. Chutes provincial park is absolutely beautiful and well worth a visit, it’s just a short drive away.

Tip: Some of the campsites are very small, check the dimensions carefully before you book. The quieter sites are the ones alongside the lake away from the comfort station.

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

 

No. 2 Bon Echo Provincial Park.

I absolutely loved our stay in Bon Echo two weeks ago. Our site was huge and frequently visited by chipmunks, squirrels and deer, the lake was beautiful and perfect for trips out in the canoe. The native Indian pictographs are amazing to see. The beaches are gorgeous and hiking routes are plentiful.

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Tip; The forest here is quite dense so most campsites are in full shade making them mosquito heaven, don’t forget the bug spray!

 

No. 1 Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park

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We visited Samuel de Champlain at the end of August last year and it is my favourite park so far. The Horse Race Rapids run through the middle of the park which are tame enough for old and young alike to float down on any inflatable object they can get their hands on, it provides hours and hours of fun!

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The Mattawa River on the park offers stunning scenery and awesome canoe routes for a variety of abilities whether it’s a rented kayak to paddle just off the beach or taking your own canoe on a long trip with several portages.

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Tip; if you are going to ride the rapids carry a small waterproof container of salt just incase you need to rid yourself of a leech!

I’m sure this list will change as we discover more Provincial Parks and I wonder if Finlayson Point Provincial Park will make the list of my favourites when we visit there next week.

 

The Move to America

The Prompt – TV

The Prompt for this week is a topic and it is:

TV: could you live without it?

 

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My initial reaction to this weeks prompt is ‘hell, yeah!’ although I’m not sure it would have been so easy to say if we were still living in the UK and had the blessing that is the BBC.

 

Truth be told Canadian TV is pretty awful. The vast majority of our TV channels are from the States so we are inundated with adverts for things we can’t buy and reality shows about the most bizarre people that you never imagined actually existed.  I have written in length before about the shocking lack of a ‘watershed’ and the astounding advertising. Recent adverts that have left hubbie and I agog include the cola drink company advertises that  “Even the man that drives the Coca Cola lorry prefers Pepsi” or the political campaign that names and shames the opposition in a series of averts with the tagline “he’s in way over his head” it’s  shocking by British standards.

 

I have never been a newspaper reader because of the bias they show and the inaccuracy of their reports, also I couldn’t care less which actors are sleeping with each other or what models flashed her undies scrambling into a taxi outside a night club. Honestly who reads that crap?! So I used to rely on the TV to keep up to date with the news both local and international. Unfortunately even our news channels in Canada are heavily biased. It may take an outsiders eyes to see it but the way their reports are delivered often have a political slant to them.

 

So once you add up the pros and cons there is nothing I get from TV that I can’t get from the Internet. The mild addiction to serial TV shows I had in England had completely disappeared and since emigrating I have read more books than ever before. Even with our long harsh winter and the cold dark nights that come with it I could still live without TV, doesn’t say much about the quality of Canadian telly does it?!