Category Archives: About me

Hello Bloggersphere!

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Helllloooooooo Bloggersphere and hello to all my lovely bloggy friends 🙂

Oh how I have missed being here!

Firstly, thank you for your messages especially from the lovely Michelle Twin Mum and Kelloggsville, I was touched by your concern ladies, you are very sweet 🙂

 

So what has kept me away from my blog for the last 5 months you might ask? Well I know you didn’t ask but I’m going to tell you anyway! 😉

 

We took the plunge in October when Hubbie and I started working for ourselves. Our new Air Conditioning business and has taken up every single minute, every waking thought and every ounce of energy we have had for the last 5 months.

Starting a business as a relative newcomer to Canada has been challenging, not that we were ever under any illusion that it would be simple. It seems we have to work twice as hard to build trust and relationships. Good job neither of us are scared of hard work!

 

It has been very different starting up here than it was when we started our air conditioning company back in England in 2000. Social media is now an essential part of any start up, producing a professional looking website and having a presence on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is something we didn’t need to do last time.   I have to relearn almost everything I learned in England from terminology and business etiquette to taxes and accounting. Starting from scratch in an industry I thought I knew inside out has been harder than I anticipated.

The hard work has started to pay off though and I have a feeling this is going to be a really good year for us.

In other news, we have just gotten through a “record breaking cold February” and I couldn’t be happier that we might finally reach above zero temperatures next week, especially as the windchill right now is -20C! It’s way too early to be declaring Spring by any stretch of the imagination but there are little hints here and there that it won’t be too long. YAY!

So I’ll leave you with some wintery shots to make you shiver and a hope that it won’t be too long before I post again, fingers crossed 🙂

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One tiny sliver of open water in Lake Ontario while the rest is frozen as far as the eye can see

 

 

 

 

 

Word of the Week – Plunge

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We have finally taken the plunge  and Hubbie has quit his job, from next week we will be officially working for ourselves.

It is a scary time and it has made our future uncertain yet again but I guess that is another example of how starting a new life in another country can keep you on your toes!  I feel a little like Eldest Son does in the photo above, bracing for impact, a little out of control maybe but trusting that the end result will be ok.

We’ve done it before, when we lived in England, so we’re under no illusions of the hard work and determination it will take to make this business successful but hopefully we have learned from the mistakes we made before and this time the journey will be easier.

Unfortunately this will mean my blogging will need to take a back seat while we get on our feet but I hope to be able to balance both eventually .  I guess that’s not a bad thing as it will allow me to concentrate on quality rather than quantity, there are so many brilliant linkys out there that have allowed me to try out my writing skills and explore my photography that I want to join them all but that’s just not possible.  From now on I’ll have to be more selective about what I post and try to only post when I have something important to say or a photo I’m particularly pleased with.

We have interesting times ahead to say the least, Hubbie will be much happier when he is in control of his work once again and I need to remember that when I go into full on panic mode as the worrier in me takes over!

Wish us luck!

 

The Reading Residence

Expat Revelations – How I’ve Changed

The ability to adapt is, in my humble opinion, the single most important trait that any successful expat needs to possess. Being able to accept, or even embrace change on a daily basis is vital. It is, therefore, inevitable that in order to integrate into a new culture, regardless of how similar it may appear to be from your home country, you will change.

I don’t think I have changed dramatically although I know some of the personality traits I already had have become more pronounced. Who I am, my beliefs and core values remain the same but I have changed in subtle ways.

I am stronger, braver and more self-reliant than ever and although it is in my nature to be very cautious I find myself more willing to take risks, after all there is little in life as risky as upping sticks and moving to a different continent and if I can make a success of that then I can deal with pretty much anything else!

I think because I notice the difference between me those around me it has made me more self-aware, I am quieter and, truth be told, more withdrawn now and I have much less confidence because of those differences.   Although I do feel that I know myself better now as having to deal with new experiences all the time has made me more aware of my strengths and weaknesses.

I am without doubt more emotional than before and being an emotional person to begin with that probably isn’t a good thing! I am very quick to tears now and that I think is because I constantly feel the absence of my family and friends. I’m not sure that will ever change and I guess it is something that I will get used to in time.

 

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What makes me happy has changed, like taking a walk in a pretty spot, photographing a beautiful landscape, camping in the forest or canoeing at sunset and it doesn’t get better than hot chocolate and a roaring fire in the winter while the snow falls.

 

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Adapting to a different culture, landscape and weather patterns have all changed me but nothing has changed me more than learning to live without my loved ones.

Joining in with Expat Revelations – How I’ve changed since Expatriation hosted by the lovely Holly at English Girl Canadian Man

 

English Girl Canadian Man

Unexpected – The Prompt

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

That was unexpected…

 

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It was a normal Friday, September 27th 2013, nothing unusual on the agenda but before I even opened my eyes there was a strange anxious feeling in my stomach.  I did a quick mental check on the events of the day before and the day to come…nothing out of the ordinary was expected or had happened but there it was an unsettled, nervous feeling deep in my stomach that I couldn’t explain.

 

What was going on?

 

I got Husband and the boys out the door and set about my usual Friday chores, grocery shopping and housework.  The unsettled feeling persisted.

 

I got stuck into the housework as I scrubbed, vacuumed, bleached and polished  my  anxiety grew.  Periodically I stopped to analyse what was going on and ask myself why I felt like this.  My 40th was one week away, was this what people termed a ‘midlife crisis’, was I turning into a neurotic nut bag?

By lunchtime I felt an overwhelming need to speak to my parents so I logged into Skype.  Offline it said, now that was unexpected they were never offline.  A quick mental calculation of the time difference in England told me it was 6pm there, Dad should be home Mum would be getting home from work about now why would they possibly be offline this time on a Friday? My nervous stomach did a back flip.

I distracted myself with more cleaning, everything that stood still was either scrubbed or put away, I couldn’t stop and I didn’t know why.  I checked skype repeatedly, still offline.  Was that the reason behind my feelings? Was something wrong back in England?  The logical part of my brain told me I was being utterly ridiculous but I was sure something was going on, I just didn’t know what.

By 3pm I couldn’t take it anymore, sixth sense, instinct, call it what you will but something in my very core told me something usual was happening and every fibre of my being needed to find out what it was. I called my sister.

“Hey, do you know where mum and dad are?” I asked.  “No, why?” she replied, the picture of innocence.  I explained my anxiety and how my stomach had been churning for the last 8 hours and how I couldn’t get hold of our parents and I just knew something wasn’t right.  “ I feel like something is happening” I told her

Half an hour later, when my husband arrived home early and asked me come outside I was greeted with the most amazing, jaw dropping sight.  There on the drive, suitcases in hand and grinning from ear to ear were my parents.   A wonderful, completely unexpected, birthday surprise.  The brave face I wear daily like a layer of armour crumpled and with my defences down the homesickness I had been stifling for a year boiled over I allowed myself to admit how much I missed them and as I ran towards them, overcome with emotion, I began to cry.

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20 years

L1040238This is my Hubbie and I 20 years ago.  This week is our 20th wedding anniversary, which means I have been married for half of my life.

 

That is the statistic that startles me most regardless of how many times I say it.  I have been a wife and mum for half of my life, Wow! I remember my Mum saying the same thing when she was 38 so now it seems mad that I can say the same thing.  I honestly don’t feel old enough!

The day itself was a simply one, I’ve never been one to make a fuss, a simple church service with an informal reception for our family and closest friends, it suited us perfectly.

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There are many differing views on the ‘ideal’ age to get married but I believe that every couple is different and what works for one might not work for another.  I don’t think age is the deciding factor on whether a marriage will work or not, it’s all down to your personality and your desire to work at it, whether you are inclined to give and take or if you throw in the towel at the first hurdle.

 

Hubbie and I are very alike in some things and complete opposites in others.  We have identical standards and morals and enjoy the same things yet have some personality traits that are the complete opposite.  Hubbie is a ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ type person he is very vocal and speaks his mind readily, I am more cautious and a planner, and while being opinionated I keep my mouth shut and my opinions to myself.

 

I would never offer advice on what makes a happy marriage but I will tell you what works for us. Teamwork.  We approach everything as a team, we rarely do things on our own, unlike many couples who have individual friends and social lives and seem to spend too much time (IMHO) thinking only of themselves.  We’ve always done things as a family and being a team is what gets us through life’s ups and downs.

 

So this week we are celebrating 20 years of being happily married.  We’ve come a long way in that time, which poses the question what, will the next 20 years bring?

 

Our first Camping Trip – Somerset

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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.

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We didn’t take chairs so we had to sit in the car!

To be truthful we had a great week exploring Somerset.  We went adventure caving in Cheddar Gorge,

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Cheddar Gorge

explored Glastonbury Abbey which I loved as I was a little obsessed with the legend of King Arthur!

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The site of King Arthur and Guinevere’s tomb?

We got down with the Hippies on top of Glastonbury Tor, I remember hearing one say ‘Can you feel the vibes, Man?”!

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Many people believe Glastonbury Tor is the gateway to the underworld

 

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The fabulous view from the top of Glastonbury Tor and Hubbie, looking about 14 years old!

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. 😀

 

Magic Moments – My Volunteer of Distinction Award

On Thursday night, Hubbie and I headed out to our district school board head office so that I could collect my Volunteer of Distinction Award.

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At the end of the last school year the Principal at youngest Sons school told me that I was being put forward for the award,  I was completely stunned. I work at school on a voluntary basis between 3 and 4 times a week, I have a group of kids that I give speech therapy to, I help kids who have ADHD with their reading and generally giving them one to one attention.  I help with the immunization clinics, occasional admin work and our SCC (PTA) weekly pizza lunch fundraiser and although I am there almost as much as the teachers I never make a fuss about what I do, other volunteers tend to be a bit more vocal about their contributions but I do it because I enjoy it and never expected anything from it so I was really surprised when I was recognized for my work.

 

On the way to the event I felt more like I was going for root canal at the dentist rather than an award ceremony, I never do anything that draws attention to myself so I was extremely nervous and kept imagining all kinds of scenarios where I tripped in my heels and face-plant on the stage in front of everyone!  Fortunately that didn’t happen, I’m relieved to say I walked onto the stage collected my award, smiled for my photo and didn’t embarrass myself in front of hundreds of people, phew!

 

I received these beautiful blue roses, a certificate and a lovely engraved pen.  I do what I do because I enjoy it and because I like to be feel useful, so to be rewarded for it was such a lovely magic moment for me 😀

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The Gallery – Sunday Morning

Yet again Tara has given us a theme that fits in perfectly with me, Sunday Morning.

 

This was the start of my Sunday morning this week, it definitely wasn’t a normal day for us as it was my 40th Birthday.  The morning began with pressies and cards (I was really spoilt!) shortly followed by a full on breakfast buffet in the hotel restaurant.  We were staying in an area of Ontario called Blue Mountain with my parents who are over visiting as a surprise for my Birthday.

Breakfast was followed by a ride up the mountain to marvel at the view and the fall colour.

 

 

My Sunday morning this week was pretty memorable, how was yours?

 

Nineteen

Eldest son has just turned 19. Where does the time go?

This was us 19 years ago, it’s one of those post labour photos when you are so off your head on Pethidine and gas that you are only vaguely aware that someone is pointing a camera at you and certainly don’t have the where with all to tell your husband to actually show the baby to the camera!  What strikes me so much about this photo is how incredibly young we look. I was 20 and hubbie was 22 and eldest son was about 45 minutes!


 

I’m pretty sure in this shot I was not only marveling at my son but wondering what on earth I was supposed to do next, quite frankly when it came to babies I didn’t know my a*se from my elbow.

 

He certainly kept us on our toes for the first few years

 and he wasn’t the easiest baby but in hindsight that would have been due to my lack of experience and confidence. He didn’t sleep much, was the fussiest eater I’ve ever known and was literally the king of toddler tantrums!

But here we are 19 years on and no only have we all survived the toddler years (although it was touch and go there for a while!) but we breezed through childhood, thrived in the tween years and with only a year left… the teens are looking good so far!

He has just started  the college years and an exciting new chapter in his life full of lectures, the student union bar and a new found freedom.

And people often ask me how I knew he was destined for a computer orientated career and I always reply, “I just had a feeling!”

Eldest son at 11 months old

So Happy Birthday to our baby boy, we are very proud of you x

 

Things I Don’t Miss About England

I can list a whole lot of things I miss about England but that would be an obvious post and not really surprising to anyone. Family and friends would be right at the top of my list along with the British resilience, that attitude that got Londoners through the Blitz. I miss the history and old buildings that ooze character. I miss fish and chips, the smell of the sea, sarcasm and the self deprecating British sense of humour to name but a few however there are a few things about England and the mindset of many Brits that I do not miss at all.

False Friends

Boy did I have more than my fair share of those, I’m sure you know the type, they take advantage, constantly want you to drop everything and go running when they need something, constantly want from you and never give back.   They are life’s takers, they wanted me to run their kids around or look after them all the time or bail them out financially and then despite this they used me as a source of ridicule and showed no respect.  I blame myself for allowing that behavior to continue and I wonder if they miss my constant help or whether they found some other sucker to fill my place until they bled them dry too. So to those people I say goodbye and good riddance, I am so much happier without you and your neediness and drama in my life.

Grey days

Those depressing dull weeks you get when you need to put the lights on as soon as you get up and don’t turn them off until you go to bed. I don’t miss the lack of seasons that happen some years, when the winter is mild and the summer is cool and you can’t really tell the difference between them.

Traffic & Road Rage

Too many cars squished into too few roads resulting in traffic chaos and people freaking out every two minutes. I understand there’s not much that can be done about old roads and infrastructure but I don’t miss a 60 mile journey into London taking 3 hours and the level of aggression from other drivers that goes along with it.

Total Collapse in Adverse Weather

The inability of local authorities to deal with any kind of adverse weather is a bit of a joke.  Snow, heat or rain can bring the whole country to a standstill and I can’t understand why.  Many countries all over the world need to deal with more extreme weather and manage it perfectly well, including here in Canada where my region hasn’t closed a school in over 20 years due to weather despite extreme conditions so why in Britain do they close schools and airports when they get an inch of snow?

 

Bureaucracy

This is another British phenomenon which baffles me, why is it a drama to open a bank account, enroll you kid in school or buy a house when it can be done in a fraction of the time in other places in the world?  Unnecessary red tape turns a relatively simple transaction into a traumatic experience.

 

The Youth of Today

Whilst I try not to sound like an grumpy old woman and probably failing miserably I really don’t get the youth culture which is prevalent in much of the UK.  Chavs and the ‘too cool for school’ attitude baffles me, don’t these kids realise how much they are limiting themselves by not going to school?  I don’t understand why kids put on fake accents either, what’s wrong with being proud of where you come from? Why put on a fake accent to try to sound like you’re from somewhere else?

 

Jealous People

What is it about Brits in particular that have that attitude where it’s seen as a bad thing to be ambitious, successful, good at something or work hard.  If you have nice things or get on in life you are gossiped about or looked down on or regarded as having ideas above your station or that if you come from a working class background then you should stay there.  Where is the ‘good for you’ attitude that is so prevalent here in North America, why support the underdog all the time, why not celebrate peoples achievements?  A prime example of this was some derogatory comments about Andy Murray just a few hours after his Wimbledon victory.  Brits have moaned about not having a Wimbledon Champion in decades and when they get one they’re still not happy.  I am completely non-judgmental of people’s choices, desires and lifestyles and I love to celebrate the achievements of people I care about, if you’re happy then I’m happy for you, please afford me the same courtesy.

 

Hypocrisy

British people that moan about immigrants yet constantly speak of a desire to spend their twilight years in spain…seriously?

 

So there you have my little rant and I feel so much better for getting all that off my chest! 😀