Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3

And so the saga continues. After being introduced to various aspects of coffee in Europe, see back to my Café and the Continent Post, I thought it may be good to share my thoughts on the Canada Coffee culture as its certainly…. different.
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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #3 Canadian Coffee Culture

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So I can not say Briony anymore when it comes to ordering coffee at starbucks as no one can spell it so I go for Molly. Which isn’t always heard right…

Ordering Coffee – The Fast Food Coffee

(Not sure if this is just an anxiously awkward me thing or something others have faced as fearful foreigners.) 

Ordering coffee is a simple transaction. This statement has been challenging to me for a few months of being in Canada. Some uniquely Canadian thing, you can not escape from is the Double Double. What is a Double Double? It happens to be a coffee served with 2 cream and 2 sugar. Logical, if you understand the ordering system in this country. I wondered for a while why people would perpetually give me the funny look when I just wanted coffee.

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What I did not know is that in most places in Canada that do the coffee put the milk or cream and sugar in while they make it for you. This is madness. As someone who is used to getting the coffee and faffing about with sugar packets its completely mind blowing. More words to say at the cashier?! Outrageous. 
However, I understand the reasoning behind the order the sugar and milk; it does save the individual the faffing time… yet it is still a concept I need to get used to. And admittedly it does stop the days where you accidentally pour the sugar in the bin, and the paper into your coffee. This does happen more often than I would like to admit…

Roll Up the Rim Season

I mentioned this briefly in my previous post and I don’t understand the hype behind it. It’s all about the chance of winning – winning a doughnut, a coffee of a Honda Civic on a years lease. As I don’t understand it I asked my Canadian friends their thoughts…

“Roll up the rim is a Canadian classic, a Canadian pass time and overall a gamble to begin your day. Even though the coffee may be anywhere from weak coffee like water to week old cigarette butts juice the gamble of getting another coffee or pastry keeps us going.” – Mirre

I am like the wrong person to ask haha I hate Tim Horton’s! Even when I go and its roll up the rim I still get cold drinks. But I think people like it because it is cheap and good (I guess). And People love Roll up cause its like the chance to win on something you would probably buy anyway. It’s like if tampons came with a prize people would be like – This makes buying these more enjoyable hahaha – Maggie

I tried this phenomenon and did not win anything. Plus the whole concept of rim rolling is confusing and not easy to do if you haven’t heard of it before. Where is this hidden message? How do I unravel the secrets of the cup? One should not overthink these things.

The Rival $1 Coffee

So what I noticed while this whole rolling rim shenanigans is going on, across the road in McDonalds, there is a $1 coffee promotion. Coffee for $1. Thats basically 55p. Why would you go in for a roll lot of disappointment when you can have a large $1 coffee that actually tastes nice? Additionally you can collect the stickers on the cups so when the season is over you have copious amounts of free coffee. Thats a win win situation!

Cafeteria Coffee

I’m not sure if this is just an Algonquin College thing, but it kinda blew my mind. So there is a large variety of flavoured coffee. Not like vanilla lattes and caramel macchiatos… Nay, as in its flavoured coffee beans and that is something I’m not used to seeing regularly. I’m sure it exists elsewhere in the world but not as open as this.

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Some fancy coffee art from Bridgehead

*And finally*

French Vanilla

Why do we not have this back in the UK; and when we can get it, why is it so expensive?! I don’t know exactly what is in french vanilla, except for the vanilla of course, but it is pretty much a hot drink that rivals the godly status of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. I suggest to anyone who like sweet things to go out of their way to try french vanilla as they will not be disappointed.

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I am an avid coffee drinker, and these weird Canadian coffee credentials seem to make the experience smoother and more enjoyable so I don’t think I can complain too much!
Thanks for reading and enjoy the nice weather before 6th winter comes!

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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #2

After getting positive feedback on my potty post, I thought I would continue my series of awkward britishness abroad and bring you the second of the series…..
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Normal Canadian Things I Find Weird #2 Precipitants

So I found a definition of precipitants on the Met Office website and now am slightly alarmed: 

The definition of precipitation is any form of water – liquid or solid – falling from the sky. It includes rain, sleet, snow, hail and drizzle plus a few less common occurrences such as ice pellets, diamond dust and freezing rain.

Weather is weather right? Wrong. From my experience as a seasoned British person I can confirm the weather stereotypes are true. Having issues with engaging conversation? Talk about the weather. Need something to complain about? Talk about the weather. Need an excuse for something? The weather. See the unfurling trend?

The average annual rainfall is apparently around 133 days for the whole of the UK which amounts to around 36% of days are rainy. But this indeed varies from area to area, for instance Wales sees 167 days (45%) of rain, and that is when the sea doesn’t want to be part of our world.

I can safely say I know rain, hail, sleet and snow as the staple precipitants. And sea water if you want to talk about coastal living, but again that is a different kettle of fish. So why do I find Canadian precipitants weird? Well. Buckle up because I just experienced my first Canadian Winter. And survived. (edit: I apparently it’s not over yet…)

Snow

The most magical of precipitants. We all know the drill in the UK that a small white dot falls from the sky masquerading as snow and the whole country gets its knickers in a twist and literally shuts down. Panic Stations everyone, its started again. Bring on more snow and it’s just a mess. There are bread shortages and crisis after crisis, people put milk in their tea before the water; generally not a good thing.
As a younger human I did enjoy the idea of snow and doing the snow things as school would be cancelled, like tobogganing and snowball fights. A snow day was a magical thing that came out of the blue. Well the grey.

BUT snow is not the same in Canada and people just carry on with their lives as they muscle their way through 20 ft of snow on the sidewalk as they need their Timmy’s as its roll up the rim season. I should also mention that when it snows here in Ottawa, it is not bad as other places in Canada.

My issue with snow is that it is deceiving and tricky. After settling being all nice and fresh and dusty the temperature will drop, freeze your eyelashes together and turn the snow into a nightmarish hell. It looks so innocent, being all untouched and bright but do not be deceived by its siren like appearance as that sh*t hurts when you do the slip and land in it. AND the snowbanks. Yes the Canada is efficient at clearing the roads and sorting out the sidewalks and doing the grit thing but it mounts up to a wall between cars and people. Crossing the road doesn’t get tougher than this.

Then there’s the snow removal. Just overnight teams just clear up the snow into big trucks and it disappears. Where does it go? Is it recycled as icebergs? Do they sacrifice it for a milder winter? I am sure there is a rational explanation that I am not asking the right people for…

One last thing about snow. When it goes to the blue sky sunny days the snow blinds you. If you don’t have sunglasses you might as well be staring into the abyss of hell as it freezes over.

Freezing Rain

I was warned about freezing rain and I merely laughed it off. My relationship with rain and complaining about the rain made me believe I could handle anything rainlike coming out the sky. Until I got caught in freezing rain. At first it was just like rain, refreshing, wet and very much rainlike. And then it changed. It disguises itself as normal raindrops until it lands. Then it reveals its true icy form as it changes roads and paths into skating rinks and physically freezes your clothes in place.

The best way to describe freezing rain to people who have never had the horror of experiencing it, would be to say it’s backwards hail. Hail comes down as ice and melts when it hits the ground. It does sting a bit but it just leaves places damp. Freezing rain is the opposite. It comes down damp and freezes everything it touches.

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What is the best bit about freezing rain? It ruins lives. That may seem a dramatic response, but it does form icicles in a blink of an eye weighing down trees and plants and powerlines. Something that can be potentially dangerous. And it doesn’t runoff like water. Once it hits the ground, it sits there. And as its ice and not snow, plowing does little to tame the behaviour of it.

I thought I had a good understanding and relationship with rain, but now I doubt going outside when the heavens have opened. What if it’s that fake rain malarky again?

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I could quite happily talk about the weather for another 1000 words. Maybe I should have gone in meteorology…
Until next time friends, make sure you make the most of the sunshine!

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Buses and Bus People

(**Shout out to all you OC Transpo users! Seriously though I have encountered this everywhere not just Ottawa…stay safe**)

I think buses will be the death of me. Specifically the bus I take to and from college. And to clarify, I don’t mean being hit by a bus Mean Girls style. I mean actually getting on them, hanging on for dear life, or avoiding a slow and steady decapitation from various other bus occupants. This also goes for when you’re standing in the high velocity sardine tin and fear for being squished by the other sardines…

Buses have never been my friend, but like a friend going on a night out, they are always late. And this is not the fashionably late kinda late. This is the miserable, of course it is raining and there isn’t a bus shelter kinda late. Lets also not comment on the walk to and from the bus stops. In Ottawa I enjoy my walk through the city on pavements to the bus stop, it’s a refreshing way to start the morning. And you get rewarded for your toilsome walk with heated bus shelters. Heated. Bus. Shelters. 

Lets move onto the real downside of the bus life….
The Journey.

Buses seem to bring out the worst of people. They are the definition of a free for all. Sure there are notices that say you should move to the back of the bus and give priority to certain people, but let’s be honest here, has that ever really happened without passive aggressive noises and gestures from over bus occupants or the driver? If there is by some luck an unoccupied seat, assertiveness, and willful brutality is the way forward if you are to win the seat from the wave of passengers entering the bus from all angles. In a sense getting the bus in the morning is a bit like the game that’s popular at children’s parties, musical chairs. But there isn’t any music, and there will be some injuries.

If perchance you get the seat and the bus isn’t crowded to the point that the driver just breezes past stops, you are subjected to the second reason of why buses bring out the worst in people. The judgement.

People watching is a fun casual pastime I and many others partake in. The usual setting is in a coffee shop window watching the people pass, but the bus scenario hikes up the casual level to extreme. Given a choice of seats, people will generally go for empty seats or sit next to the smallest people. I’ve seen people stand to avoid sitting next to certain people… I am guilty as charged. Staring also seems to be a common predicament on buses, whether it is just idle zoning out of passengers or the fact that any social norms are left at the bus stop. Just not comfortable for anyone.

Now the one things that disturbs me greatly on buses are the people who can just drift off to sleep. The only time I’ve ever fallen asleep on public transport was the tube in London. Of course it ended up in a swift awakening as the train stopped and my head connected with the not soft rail of the circle line… The thought of falling asleep on a bus just worries me to the point of not sleeping. Seeing people dropping off beside you, it’s an awkward situation to be in. How do you politely say “please refrain from leaning and dribbling on me while you power nap on your way to work?” It’s just too awkward for me. (#britishproblems)

Leading on from the disturbing napping bus people, comes the next species, the ones who are transfixed for the whole journey on their cellular device. I have so little qualms with people reading or using their mobiles (cells)… the only issue I have is when people are so engrossed in their tiny computers that they are unaware of anything around them. The music that is being played so loud you feel sorry that their brain has to endure that level of noise. They don’t see the frantic waving or pushing of fellow bus people as they try to leave only to be stopped by the electronic infused enthusiast. Infuriating.

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#busselfie

This may seem very negative now I reflect… But the buses aren’t always that bad…

Public Transport actually opens up the city for me. If I don’t fancy walking there is sure to be a bus going the same way as me. Yes, I may have to wait and I’m not guaranteed luxurious comfort, but public transport is public transport, and I am very sure that there are worse companies out there than OC Transpo….

Thanks for reading, sorry for the ranty read, and have an excellent week!

 

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Toronto in Blue

Over the weekend I went to Toronto for the weekend. Being a short 4ish hour drive form Ottawa, what’s not to lose?

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I’ve been trying to stylise my pictures for a unique look and the G7 lets me play with colour so much more than my Canon 6d. All the edits are made in Lightroom on RAW files and exported as Jpegs.

2 Months in

To be truthful it’s been very hard to put into words the transition of Europe to North America, so apologies for the delay, and enjoy this rambling read…
As a Brit moving to Canada didn’t seem that much of a move from the U.K. Oh how I was proven wrong. Of course the normal things of knowing that the British accent is loved were expected but a few things have thrown me slightly.

The best way to describe Ottawa is that someone has taken my memories of England and France and shifted them to the left a couple of inches. Pieces of Architecture from both cultures entwined with the modern city scape make living here easier than I expected.

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Language barriers

Unlike the conventional language barriers that are common in Europe, the Canadian Language barrier is more like a language hurdle that you can definitely have a laugh about. My usual experience with language barriers is with the complete inability to understand the noises someone is making. Over here it is as if someone wanted to make life more interesting and  just took a few words in the dictionary and switched the definitions and watch the chaos unfurl. As a Brit you could imagine my horror when I was told to come into work with no pants, as pants in Britain are underpants, not what the North Americans refer to as trousers. Again just small changes of words from mobile to cell, pavement to sidewalk and my favorite, courgette to zucchini. One of my favourite phrases of the UKadian night out that I definitely know not to ask is “Can I bum a fag?” This harmless whimsical slang of politely asking to borrow a smoke can be considered  as a bit unruly and may be seen as homophobic and not politically correct.  Many of my british english speaking friends also have encountered awkward language borders, a fun favorite is during classes; “Can I borrow a rubber?” which of course makes sense. a rubber to rub out your pencil. But alas, this does mean condom in the North Americas hence the perplexity and shock one receives from this statement.

“That’s a great British accent you have, how long have you been practicing?”
Oh my dear, if you didn’t figure out I was British from my accent I think we have an issue. My accent accentuates every little consonant to the extent that you may start to feel sorry for the letters being attacked and I have a habit of elision. However I have noticed something horrifying in the way I talk now that would make any elocution teacher shiver. My British Ts have digressed into Ds. (Send BBC Radio 4 care packages.)

But I notice some words I say are definitely different to the majority of people around me.(*Trigger Warning*)
Here is a list of words that I shall no longer say in fear of my own sanity, well being and integrity:

Aluminium
Vitamin
Schedule
Aubergine
Garage
Basil
Oregano
Corriander
Tuna
Yoghurt
Fillet
Route

One day we will be able to talk about you again.

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Shops, Pubs and Public Convenience

Shops are shops wherever you go, like you can buy your groceries in shops and markets all over the world and there is not much of  difference as the idea is ubiquitous. But lets look at our friend Ontario the province that I find myself in. Alcohol is not necessarily sold in supermarkets. There is no chance of going to the corner store to score yourself a bevvy. After living in Wales for the last 4ish years it is a bit of a surprise when you have to plan a trek to the local beer store or LCBO to buy the booze and not just pop down the road to replenish your liquor stocks. Okay, I see the pros for the government of monitoring alcoholism and things but also where is the equivalent meal for one deal you can get from M&S with microwave dauphinois potatoes and a bottle of prosecco?! I don’t think Canada has a M&S or Waitrose equivalent. (Why am I here again?!)

Lets move onto the purchasing of your groceries. I’m not sure If I am just an awkward or a rude person but in my experience of the Great British Shop, you don’t communicate unless its essential. This goes for retail and restaurants as well; there is no idle chatter. In my Canadian experience,  around 98% of the time, no matter the establishment, you’ll get someone saying “Hi” and engaging in conversation. *Panic stations* There is no way I would be prepared for this in the U.K. and usually would result in my abrupt walk away as it is an unspoken rule that this interaction is frowned upon in British society.

I would love to say Pubs are Pubs wherever you go. However, this would be a lie. Although, A bar is a bar wherever you go. If something claims to be a pub outside of Europe then I be prepared to have your idea of pub reformatted. Pubs are restaurants, and everything is on a tab. Pubs serve food always. And you usually pay at the table at the end of the night. And you tip. You tip a lot. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

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The City, The Town and Suburbia

I can’t really compare cities across the world only ones I’ve been to, so the majority European, the likes of London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Paris, Lyon, Caen, Geneva, Salzburg, Riga, Brussels, Eindhoven and many other European Cities, and of course a smattering of cities in North America. And there is definitely a stark contrast between European Cityscape and North American.
I can’t say I hate the differences as they are just that different.

North American cities and towns seem to operate on a grid system. This is super handy to navigate and get around. It makes sense. The roads don’t have weird windy one way systems that make you want to drive off a bridge or lead you to somewhere miles away from where you need to be. The newer towns and cities seem to understand that roadways and sidewalks need to be wider for the regulation of road and foot traffic so there isn’t fear of death. *cough oxford street*.
However. There is a significant road feature that I miss. The humble roundabout. Europeans love it, the Americans don’t know how to use it, the roundabout wins hearts and eases traffic. Okay the last one was a lie, lets look at Milton Keynes and Swindon here for killing the roundabout. Yes, the roundabout is not a feature commonly use in Canada and well, it’s not exactly needed as most interactions are one road crossing another, not a knotty mess of 6+ plus roads crossing each other that seems to be a recurring feature throughout the European countries.

Onto the Suburbs. The place for commuting? I’m not quite sure why suburbs exist and how they exist and quite frankly they frighten me. Subdivisions are like council house estates in the UKadia but they seem to lack the integrated public conveniences and park space, just a twisted residential lattice with shopping centres located around it. It is definitely something I have not come across before in the Europes and something I’m not keen on trying out. I think I’ve watched too many suburban horror films.

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That’s what I make of my moving experience so far – Thanks for the read, leave me a star, a comment or a share and I’ll repay the favour.

 

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Small Corner of Europe

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Something that is really prominent about my childhood memories are the holidays to France. From when I can remember France has been a major part of my growing up from day trips to Calais, to weekends in Paris. It wasn’t until I was 7 or 8 that we started holidays in French cottages, or Gites, that is a big part of my life and now my parents’ lives. The first place I can fully remember was next to a big Château in the Southern regions of France. I can’t remember the exact location but remember watching the Hoopoes chatting to each other on the power lines. I remember the house being a pile of unsorted rooms, with a porch that should have been a room but the wall just wasn’t there, being open to sun, but protected from the rain. The bedrooms were corridors to reach other rooms which I associate with the traditional “french vibe”. Obviously this was a 7-8 year old creating and reinforcing stereotypes in her head but nonetheless I did and still do love the French culture.

Our holidays took us around France and I have fond memories of cycling around Mount Ventou, Provence’s fields of lavender and seas of sunflowers, La Rochelle’s stunning blues of the sea and Île Noirmoutier, Hidden monasteries in dense forests, to name but a few. Each place had it’s only character that added to my Continental fascination as well as adding to my French vocabulary. (If somehow Mrs Tominey is reading this, I can conjugate Etre and Avoir now….)

 I could go on and on – probably write a book on my french holidays growing up and the shenanigans my family and I got up to, but thats not what I’m meaning to write about today. (You can see from the very questionable pictures above, I didn’t take many photos back then and the quality isn’t great…)

Save the images of cobbled streets, small narrow roads aligned with shops, cafés and bakeries. Think of the squares that open out that are hemmed in by restaurants and cafes, the square littered with small market stands, and artisans selling their profession. For me this is the artisan quarter of Paris by Montmartre. This is where I remember eating chips with my Mum, throwing them up in the air for small sparrows to catch, overlooking the city sprawled out below. Or the copious times my Mother and I visited Bruges, huddled up in winter in the main square with a hot chocolate, after walking around the many wooden stalls of the Christmas market. It’s very old buildings and street ways that don’t particularly make much sense but brought together is my traditional view of Europe.

Keep that image we will get back to it. 

If you have ever visited America, its very quick to understand that their perception of old is not in the same realm as European old. In Europe we have towns dating back thousands of years with buildings dating back hundreds. I grew up in a house originally built in the 17th century. European old is old old. American old is 1800s, maybe 1700s at a push. We can’t mock them for this, as technically speaking, they are Europeans too. And although we don’t see the exact copy of continent to continent, there is still small corners of Europe.

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Even after being told by friends, I did not believe that there would be anything like my small French towns in North America, and well I was proved wrong. You can see influences in certain buildings, as I was expecting, but I wasn’t expecting to find myself transported back across the Atlantic to a weird combination of French and Germanic streets and squares. Montreal did this.

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Being so far from “home” it did make me feel a bit homesick for my childhood holidays with my family. Additionally it made me realise how much stress my parents must be under in their big move to Normandy fulltime. It’s funny how much memories can make you realise your future. Studying the past does help the present. (Something like that…)

Back to Montreal!
I only had the pleasure to visit the place for a day, and that was enough for me. (Nothing to do with falling over on Mount Royal in the morning…) The mash up of old and new just made it a bit crazy for my European brain, and to fully appreciate the place I would definitely need more time and more confidence in my french. (I’ll come to that in a later post I am sure.) 

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From super modern metropolis, with colourful walls, high rises and concrete, to just round the corner that takes you back to Europe. Pretty strange for me, but it’s just another one of those places that makes you stop and think.

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In my last post I talked about Places I will Miss – the small bits of England that I know aren’t going anywhere but I hold dear to me, mainly due to fond memories and friends. If anything moving somewhere else is just going to expand my feelings and memories and urge me to go to places, I as a small person would never have thought about outside the confines of Europe. That is exciting.

I will always have a fond place for my french holidays with my parents and I hope I can continue the French tradition, especially in helping with the final move to Normandy. Fingers crossed, this time next year I’ll have more French fancies to share!

Thanks for reading and have a Great Day.

If you feel like it, leave a comment about your favourite childhood holiday/memories as I would love to hear from you! 

Lead up to a Big Announcement…

The idea of getting on a plane on my own, making a transfer in an unknown place and then landing somewhere knew scared the hell out of me. The whole thing is alien to me and the fact that I did a responsible adult thing like other people without being awkward or being super duper nervous, impresses me greatly. (This is coming from the person who doesn’t like entering buildings if the door is shut. Yep. That bad.)

First thing I notice off a plane is the weather. Obviously being British, I am programmed with the unspoken law of commenting on the weather, regardless of location. By the time the plane touched down in Saint John, Newfoundland, it was a little underwhelming to be greeted with the standard grey mists and 8 degree temperature of a Great British Spring. Especially after leaving the brilliant blue of the week long English summer. Although, this gave me a solid excuse to stay in the airport for the 2ish hour lay over and hide with a coffee and questionable tuna sandwich. Due to the size of the airport, being lost was no longer major worry as there were, at maximum, five gates. The only worry I had was somehow placing myself on a flight not to Ottawa but to somewhere else, as that is something that would happen to me. That and not understanding what people are saying to me as I am not exactly deft with accents and end up just nodding when not understanding what people are saying. Like when I went to Newcastle. (That’s a whole other story of  Just Why Briony)

11 hours and 47 minutes later I arrived in Ottawa. The flights were not eventful, the head air host had a sense of humour that was questionable at times, but overall made the flights a little less stressful. Going through security, I was stopped. Everytime. I think random was set to Briony on the trip – safe to say I am no longer awkward with pat downs and swabs. (Not entirely sure if that is worrying or not..)

Ottawa is not what you would expect of a capital city. It isn’t a big urban sprawl, but it’s not a town. A mixture of quiet streets and main road ways make Ottawa a quiet but lively city. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t seen anything like it before. As a European, I am used to the European cities and towns that have no logical system of roadways and buildings. I am used to the unbearable crowds of London, coupled with the heavy air and stale smell of traffic. Maybe the lack of tall buildings and terraced houses allows the air to flow, or the lack of tourists makes it a more open, fresher and revitalising environment to be in.

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So what does this have with a big announcement? I spent just under a fortnight in Ottawa and it revived my dream of studying out there. So since I got back I’ve been busy seeing if my applications still stand, and if I am able to go out and study there.

Looks like I’m moving abroad….

Welsh Riviera

I love and hate having friends across the world, some closer to home than others, but always there to visit and talk to. North Wales is no exception to this rule, seeing as recently I’ve almost hopped over the border to England. This trip took me right onto the North Coast to Rhyl and Llandudno.

 
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To say I had a Rhylly good time would be an understatement as betwixt the majority of elderly and unruly youths, the Welsh Riviera really is a great place to visit. Luckily, We had the warm weather, mediterranean blue skies and beautiful sea. The couple of days were filled with window shopping, retail therapy and just aimless walking and chatting, the kind of thing you need with good friends and a pretty looking place.

However how lovely Llandudno is, it isn’t for those who have a fast pace of life. For one, the speed of the place and the people is around 2mph. The place is catered to this speed, and the accompanying age of life, so is not necessarily a place that is “up and coming” for the young adult, graduate or anyone with ambition. To be trapped in this Purgatory, much like my time serving at Aberystwyth University, would be ideal during the summer season with plenty of work being offered, to save for the inevitable escape, but throughout the winter and colder months, to be trapped in the icy grip of this place would be a total disaster.

 

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So many opportune photo moments here from taking symmetrical images to please my aesthetic eye, to getting the long seascapes that I’ve grown to love and hate with my time living on the coast. Another thing about Llandudno is that it boasts colour. All the details of the town seem somewhat French, with iron railings, weird parking habits and the flow of rooftop to rooftop. The pier is a remarkable blue and white, blending perfectly with the mediterranean sky, sultry sea and airy clouds so even on an overcast day, the two punctual colours stand out.

 

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Down the coast is the town of Rhyl, currently under a lot of rebuilding, the potential seen in this place is remarkable. The flats of the sands reach out to the handful of wind turbines on the sea that make a remarkable sight. Unlike the usual reaction of “wind turbines ruin the landscape” they add to the flat seascape in a way I’m not sure I understand. The roads are lined with terraces, all the same yet unique with the odd change of colour of doors, windows and windowsills, throwing a sense of colour to the beige. The promenade in Rhyl is a great walk, really showing off the Northern coastline of Wales and perfect to do on a sunny or rainy day.

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After my negativity towards the place, I do encourage people to visit this coast line for a few days. It shows the vast beauty and contrast Wales can offer from the Old Victorian holiday resorts to the green and blue rolling hills and seas, castle ruins and winding roads in a small area. As well as doing good crepes at Fortes, damn they were good.

Have a great day and thanks for the read!

 

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Escape

It’s a common theme, my adventurous trips to get away from it all. Yet, I can not stress the importance of taking a step back from intense work life to enjoy the world and life we are given. As the last couple of months has been a series of heavy deadlines mixed with a series of unfortunate events, getting away from it all was needed.

Although this time we didn’t exactly travel far, where we did go was a completely different world, yet being a small meandering drive up the coast.

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I don’t know if there are many others like me, but I am definitely an over-thinker and immerse myself so deeply in my head that I need to have a break to just take a step back from me and hit the refresh button.
Luckily for me, Wales have these little pockets of gold that take you to an entirely different world, that makes you think; wow, I live in this world.

Anyway onto where we went…. Tucked up on the North West coast are a number of small beach towns and honey pots including Barmouth, Harlech, Criccieth and Portmeirion. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, Portmeirion is the real life Welsh Rivendell. Winding paths take you up down around and through the cliffside and down the coast, across small gardens and around ornate towers and buildings. What really makes this place unique however is the vibrancy and contrast of colours, detailed frescoes and intricate architecture.

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Even on an overcast day the colours lift dampened spirits. The town also boasts a wealth of flora, from palms and ferns, to colourful rhododendron bordering the stairs snaking around the cliffs.
What made this day exceptionally nice was the ability to just sit and watch the world go by. No need to do anything or think of anything just sit and enjoy what is in front of you.

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I hope you can all afford an hour or two to just sit and not worry.

Thanks for reading and have an amazing Summer!

TBT: Toronto

This post is a throwback to my time in toronto written in 2015… enjoy!

“Urban sprawl” is a predictable description for the bulk of major cities whether you go around the globe. The vivacious undertone that the description should possessive is snuffed out by the disdained manor the two words are delivered with.

Toronto can be described as such, with its clusters of lustrous skyscrapers, stonework hotels and spires dusting its unique skyline.  With its heady mix of new and old, Toronto possesses an entirely new perspective of the metropolis. With the original metropolis, New York, being a mere 2 hour flight away, Toronto gives you the tall buildings, the traffic, the bustle of the city, yet on a smaller scale. The history of the place is intertwined with the Canadian passion for sports, economic growth and reverence for beer.

Travelling from the airport you can see the faded buildings in the distance with the CN tower proudly in the forefront, reminding you that it used to be the tallest building in the world.  Winding your way through the busy grid system, hemmed in by the towering windows, a sensation of nervous demeanour and excitement collide. The streets are lined with impressive sculptures and a variety of coffee houses and offices reminding you the hustle and bustle of life.

The hotel we happened to stay in doubled with university of Toronto accommodation, providing the standard canteen breakfast and common room facilities of fridge and microwave. The room was large with all needed facilities, a functioning bathroom and a tiny balcony to let in the city air. From the 23rd floor you could see as far as the great lake Ontario, and surrounding tree line, just escaping the shadow of the CN tower.

As a visitor to the country of Canada, it is a must that you sample the wonders that is their favorite coffee chain, Tim Horton’s. Placed almost as regularly as Starbucks on the active streets, Tim’s are simple yet effective. Distinct from its main competitor, it doesn’t host boards on boards of specialty lattes and cappuccinos, with Italian roots, it has simple filter coffee with any addition you require, without the faff of adding milk and sugar yourself. To enjoy this coffee to the max, it is advised that you have a light snack or in Tim’s case, a sugary treat in the form of a doughnut. The assortment of doughnuts on sale outdoes any other coffee shop and all are a small doughy drop of heaven.

For only staying a day and a half within the city, touristic musts and local lovelies had to be balanced. The ROM, (Royal Ontario Museum) boasts three floors of extensive history from dinosaurs, Chinese dynasties to modern day, with its current feature being the disastrous Pompeii, aptly named “Rompeii.” After a quick stroll round the luxury shops, seeing the haute couture, it was downtown to a bar. Drinks are expensive in Toronto with a lager going for around $7-8 a pint and wine being on par for Norwegian prices. However the food was good and the company was better.

For our full day, we were whisked downtown in search for fame and fortune in the form of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Both being avid hockey fans, the Hall was greatly to our liking meeting the late greats and of course having a picture of the one and only Stanley cup. Saying that, there are actually two of them, but one being so fragile dating back to the late 1800s, that a second was made to house the names of the new winners in the seasons to come.

To escape the unpredictable weather and to sate our grumbling stomachs, the answer beckoned itself in the form of a sports bar. Hoops.  The interior of the bar was kept out of darkness by a few themed lights and at least 100 TV screens, so that everywhere you looked, a sport could be seen in process.  The place was set out consisted of an open tabled area, the bar and booths. The bar boasted an impressive 25 beers on tap, and an even bigger arsenal of assorted liquor bottles behind the bar. The food came in an unexpected normal sized portion, nothing too extreme in both respects.  Being fed and watered, we continued on our way to our next destination.

Keeping on the downtown theme we returned to pass by the CN tower in a Toronto torrent, getting pretty much soaked to the skin, to find ourselves at the old roundhouse in search for the perfect component to any good hockey match. A Beer. The roundhouse is home to three establishments, the railway museum of Canada with its assorted trains out the front, Lyons and Steam Whistle Brewery. The brewery gives out a few samples to whoever wants and a 45-minute tour for 3 different tariffs depending on what you would like to receive at the end.  When touring round the facility, you are handed an ice-cold bottle of beer, to enjoy that brewing process that extra bit more.  The Pilsner is brewed in the tiniest brewery I’ve seen but bottles and cans an impressed 8.5 million liters a year.  This is an impressive feat for any brewery.

Continuing on the brewing theme, we travel uptown about 3km to the distillery district where most of the other beers in Toronto are made. Following the premise from yesterday, some food, some beer, some laughs were held in the restaurant of the mill street brewpub.

Upon leaving the pub, the district with its old style architecture, cobbled streets and wooden window frames was lit up with a canopy of bulb lights, framed by gas-powered streetlights leading you to the end of its magical pretense and back to the reality of modern day.