Category Archives: Holidays

Word of the Week – Reflective



Reflective is the word that best describes my week for a couple of reasons.

The first is our holiday, which sadly came to an end at the beginning of this week. We were camped right on the shores of Lake Temagami in Northern Ontario. We had a fabulous week exploring the area and my favourite prt of the days were the evenings when the lake turned to glass and the reflection of the evening sky was absolutely perfect, we’d grab the canoe and kayak and head out for a paddle.





Reflective also suits my mood this week as Sunday was exactly three years since we arrived here in Canada.  Our anniversary is the time when I reflect on the changes in our life,  weigh up the pros and cons of expat life, remember the past and look to the future.



The Reading Residence

Alphabet Photo – J is for Jetty


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

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.


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 for first hand experiences of a park and recommendations of the best sites.


No. 3 Fairbank Provincial Park


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.


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


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!


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.


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 Gallery – Happy

Discovering new places with my Hubbie and the boys makes me so happy.



This is my favourite recent picture of them, they were sharing a joke (probably at my expense!) when I took it.  We’d stumbled upon this incredibly beautiful spot while we were camping last summer and this photo brings back fantastic memories of our brilliant, fun and happy week together full of new places and new experiences.


Sticky Fingers Photo Gallery

Discovering Ottawa Part 3 – Skating on the Rideau Canal



Have you ever done one of those quizzes on Facebook about where you have travelled or what you have done, you know the ones designed to make yourself feel superior to your friends because you have travelled further afar than them? I digress.  I was reading one a few months back and looked through all the places to visit in Canada, not to post the results I hasten to add, but to check out all the ‘must do’ things that we may not have done yet and one of them was to ice skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa.  I was really excited about our trip to Ottawa in January but a little disappointed that the canal doesn’t usually open for skating until the end of January.   I was delighted to discover that, due to the unseasonably cold winter we have been having this year, the Canal was open a whole month early than normal and we would be able to skate on it.

photo 2

The Rideau Canal is famous for being the world’s longest skating rink at 7.8km and is used by tourists and locals alike, locals use it to skate to work and school in the winter, how cool is that!?  I admit I didn’t skate an awful lot, the ice was extremely bumpy and not exactly like the ice rinks that I am used to, but I did it.  We hired skates, instead of lugging our own all that way, which in hindsight was a mistake as the hire skates were expensive and incredibly uncomfortable.  I didn’t last on the ice very long, truth be told, well it was -30C so you can’t blame me!  But we did have time to sneak in a quick Beavertail, a freshly cooked flat doughnut like Canadian delicacy and an absolute must for après skating!


Hubbie enjoying a hot Beavertail

What is really strange about the whole experience is this;  Growing up in England you are told never to go near frozen ponds or lakes as they are extremely unsafe, yet here we are in Ottawa skating on a frozen canal perfectly safely and the next day I took this shot of downtown Ottawa with the canal in the middle showing, not only skaters but buildings on the canal not to mention the great big truck with the snow plough clearing the snow from the ice.




It’s hard to believe there will be boats floating on here in a few weeks isn’t it!


Travel Tuesday

The Gallery – Christmas Tree

Tara has asked us to share our Christmas Trees this week in The Gallery.

Here’s mine pictured at night, which is how I like it best, with the glow of it lighting up the room.



Unfortunately I don’t have any old ornaments and I can’t say I’ve been collecting them for years because, like everything else, we had to start afresh when we emigrated as importing Christmas decorations is always a red flag to customs (they are looking for pine beetles in pine cones apparently ) so we decided not to bother.


The exception to this is two little Santa bells that my Mum bought for my boys years ago.


And this year, courtesy of my lovely sister, my tree is adorned with much coveted Cadbury Chocolate decorations.  These are unavailable here in Canada and she sent me some earlier this week! Thanks Sis xx




The Gallery

The Gallery – Feeling Festive

‘Feeling festive’ is not easy when you live on a different continent from your loved ones.  The Christmas season is, in my humble opinion, the most difficult time of year for an expat.  Every media outlet spews a constant stream of cheesy images of the ‘traditional’ Christmas (you know the ones, 15 people sat around the table with a turkey the size of an ostrich!) just acts as a constant reminder that the expat Christmas is not like that.

Over the last two years I have developed a few coping strategies, things I do to help me get into the Christmas spirit.


1. Make a Christmas playlist and burn a CD of all my favourite seasonal songs. I play it in the car and at home and sing along (loudly and usually out of tune!)


2. Enjoy the weather.  It’s hard not to feel festive when you open the curtains to this in the morning! Doing your Christmas shopping wrapped up in wooly hats, scarves and gloves feels so much more like Christmas is supposed to be.

Delia Smith Christmas MincemeatMince Pies








3. Bake mince pies. Mince pies aren’t widely available in Canada and those that are taste pretty icky! Thankfully I managed to make my own with guidance from my Delia Smith cookbook brought with me from England.  A time consuming yet thoroughly rewarding endeavour and seriously, does anything smell more festive than mince Pies…?

 The Gallery

My Favourite Travel Photo

There is a prompt for today’s Travel Tuesday, it is “Show us your most favourite photo from all your travels and tell us why it means so much to you”. 

I have shared this photo before, a couple of times in fact, so apologies for repeating myself but it is my most favourite holiday photo and I couldn’t honestly share any other picture.

It was taken in Banff, Alberta on our first holiday there in 2006.  This is the picture that hangs in my dining room, that I look at every mealtime.  It reminds me of the holiday that literally changed our lives.  Our crazy, full on, two week whirlwind holiday where we rushed around from morning to night trying to fit in and soak up as much of the experiences as physically possible while marveling at the stunning scenery all around us.  The holiday that made us reassess our lives, contemplate our place on the world and the lives we wanted to live.

This was where our emigration journey began.


What’s the Story? – Photobomb

This is one of those photos that always makes me smile, it’s one of the best photobombs I’ve seen eventhough it was taken well before the word even existed!

Mid-air photobomb

This was Boxing Day 2006 and we were on holiday in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, the holiday that literally changed our lives.

 We were travelling between Banff and Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, often referred to as the most beautiful drive in the world and having done it I believe it to be true.  One of the places to see on the route is the Athabasca Falls which, being December, were mainly frozen except for the bright blue glacial water crashing under the ice, it was spectacular.  On the way back to the car hubbie had walked ahead of me and the boys and stopped to photograph us stumbling through the snow.  Eldest son and I stopped and posed for the shot before hearing a splat beside us as youngest son looked up at us from the snow, giggling. We had no idea what we had captured until we downloaded the photos later that evening…the ultimate mid-air photobomb.

Athabasca Falls



Our First Portage, Samuel De Champlain Provincial Park



the carrying of a boat or its cargo between two navigable waters


We bought a canoe a fortnight ago and hubbie was itching to get out and explore during our camping trip ‘up north’ last week.  Our first two trips out with the boys were quite sedate, we travelled about 10km viewed the local wildlife and marveled at the scenery but the day before we were due to return home hubbie got it in his head to try something more adventurous.  The boys decided they had had enough of the fresh air, exercise and leeches (!) so opted to stay put in the campground while hubbie and I attempted a 14km route with 2 portages.

The first stretch was along the Mattawa River, an historic canoe route for the native peoples and the first European explorers to Canada.  There’s something very therapeutic about the total silence broken only by the plop-swoosh, plop-swoosh sound of your paddle as it enters the water and we completed this leg quite easily despite the heat.

Phase two involved navigating a river littered with fallen trees and a 30 meter portage to the connecting river.  We surprised ourselves that we managed this section well and as we completed our first portage we were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.   A 210 meter portage was our final obstacle to the last leg of our trip.  So with achy arms and sore backs we yet gain found ourselves struggling to get through fallen trees at the end of the river.

After struggling to get out of the water, with the canoe, paddles, buoyancy aids and kit bag we started the hike to the last lake. After about 10 minutes of hiking uphill, sweating buckets, with my pretty pink pedicure covered in black swamp goop, carrying all our kit and hubbie lugging the canoe I couldn’t help but screech in a rather unladylike manner ‘210 meters my a*rse!”

Eventually I glimpsed the lake shimmering through the trees.

We launched the canoe and after another 20 minutes of paddling and we’d made it to the end of our journey.  It was hot, sticky and exhausting but the sense of achievement was awesome.

This was the view as I looked back across the final lake that we had just travelled using nothing but grit, determination and the power of our arms.