Just like old times

Friday I woke up not feeling the greatest. I was still getting over a cold and then when I took some cold and flu tablets my head just turned all fuzzy. Not what anyone wants, especially when you’re expecting more visitors in the evening. First off though, I went to get my haircut at the same place Julian goes. Normally I get a $16 haircut from the place down the road but I thought for the wedding I should get something a bit nicer. It turned out well, though not too different from what I normally get. I think it’s a work in progress.

I went home after that and lay on the couch for a few hours watching TV. I could have napped, but I didn’t. What are you going to do? And then Ben and Dion arrived. They’d flown in from New York that day, sorted out a few errands and then came over about 5pm. Seeing them come out of the lift outside our apartment was another surreal moment. They came in and we caught up on the goss. They’d just done three weeks in North America, seeing some amazing things.

Glen got home close to 6, we ordered pizza, picked it up, got some drinks, came back, ate, then played Ticket to Ride, a board game about trains. Bec, Alastair and Julian came along too while we were playing and we had some more drinks. I won the game (YAY!), and then we sat down and did what we normally do with Ben and Dion: watch Eurovision.

Of course, it was a bit different from back home as they have the whole shows (since 2008 I think) recorded whereas we had to resort to using YouTube and picking our favourites. (Yes, we have favourite Eurovision acts.) Bec and Alastair had gone by this stage but Julian stayed and was exposed to a whole new exciting world. Eurovision isn’t big here like it is in Australia.

The night ended at about 11pm, only because we had big plans the next day. Glad to see that nothing had changed.

The first visitors arrive

Thursday I got to see the first of the overseas visitors who’d come for our wedding. Lyndal, Phil and Dylan arrived the afternoon before but it wasn’t until lunchtime that we managed to meet up. I’d gone uptown to collect my repaired camera lens. Long story short, it hadn’t been fixed properly so they were going to repair it and courier it down to me. Despite not getting the lens back, I was glad for the little drive there and back as it was a stunning autumn day with clear skies and a subdued light. Not to mention the leaves along the sides of the freeway were in full colour bloom. Autumn in Canada is magical.

The three of them came up to our condo and arrived shortly before I got back. Their four-year-old son Dylan was so pleased to see me, which I was just stunned about because it had been more than a year since we’d since him. Also, the last time he’d been much more subdued and wary. This time he gave me the biggest hug without any prompting from his parents. Such a cutie.

We hung out in the apartment for a little while before heading down the road to see find some food, choosing a pub on Church St, and afterwards went for a walk through the Allan Gardens’ Conservatory and then Loblaws for some food for dinner. All the while catching up on what’s taken place in our lives on opposite sides of the planet. It was so good to see them again.

We parted ways at Loblaw’s for a bit of downtime. I went to the gym (something I’m not going to get much opportunity for over the next week or so), then came home to prepare for dinner. Sophia and Katelyn had also arrived the day before and we’d managed to get in touch with each other so I invited them to dinner too.

Glen got home about 6, not long after people arrived. I made pasta, we sat and ate and talked. The two kids bonded over Frozen, and then Katelyn (half asleep from tiredness) was glued to My Little Pony for a while. It was a bit surreal having these Aussie friends in our apartment, and it’s been the same with other people who’ve arrived since. Intellectually you know they’ve come all this way and that you haven’t seen them for ages, but it doesn’t feel like that at all. It just feels like being back home and they’ve popped in for a visit. It’s strange, but in a good way.

They left at about 9 or 10 and we made plans for catching up on Saturday to visit the Corn Maze.

8 more sleeps til the wedding

I’m starting to get excited now. Things are starting to fall into place. The past two days have been relatively easy going as we knock a few more things off the list. I’ve mostly sorted the transport to the wedding now and should get taxi confirmation tomorrow. We’ve sent information back to the photographer and we’ve got a final chat coming up on Sunday.

Our suits are ready to collect. Glen’s ring isn’t ready yet, obviously. My speech is mostly done (just got a few touches to add). Really, the main last thing to do is pick a procession song and a marriage certificate signing song. Any suggestions? I was thinking Ride of the Valkyries.

Julian’s booked me a haircut for Friday and I’m going to book a proper shave for Tuesday. Other than that, there’s not much else left to coordinate. Which is great because it means I don’t have to stress and I can finally get over this cold. I think I’m at the tale end of it now.

I tidied the apartment today. I’ve just got the floors left to do. I think it’s the cleanest and tidiest its been since before we moved in. I’m tempted to go and stay in a hotel for a few days so we don’t mess it up. I threatened Glen not to leave his clothes on the floor when he got home.

Other than that I’ve done a few other odds and ends. I took some books back to the library yesterday and then did some research on executioners (for my new book). One good thing (among many) of living in a large city is that the library collection tends to be extensive. We’re also near the Toronto Reference Library which has a LOT of books in it covering all sorts of weird topics (like executioners).

I’ve been to the gym, I’ve been shopping, I did a bit of writing too (not a lot but enough to keep the guilt down and to make some progress). I’ve also watched TV and have gotten myself completely hooked on Damages, a TV show with Glenn Close. It’s nasty, full of lots of twists and turns, and I’m nearly done with season 1 (I only started watching it yesterday). I’d be watching it now but Glen’s gone to the gym and even though he’s only seen a few out of the 11 episodes I’ve watched, he has forbidden me to watch anymore without him. Surely I can just fill him in later.

The first of our guests start to arrive in Toronto tomorrow. I don’t think we’ll get the chance to see them because they’ll be tired but it won’t be long before we’re reunited. It’s been thrilling to see friends on Facebook start their journeys to our part of the world. A few are in New York, one is in Istanbul, a couple out west. I’m actually pretty envious of them, which is a little insane.

8 more sleeps to go.

A weekend for skiing and wedding things

Saturday was a bit of a strange day as we didn’t really have anything planned. That’s not really a bad thing considering the wedding is soon and we have people arriving. It just felt a bit odd to be in Toronto on a Saturday with no real plans. That didn’t mean we didn’t have stuff to do.

I went shopping for a few odds and ends, leaving Glen to listen to a webcast on some breast imaging thing and putting the finishing touches on the party favours. He sent me a message while I was out with a photo of them attached. Each party favourĀ comes with a hangover kit that Glen’s put together (containing ibuprofen, tictacs, almondsĀ and chocolates), with a Canadian animal keyring attached. They look great. I made the suggestion that the animal should be in the bag with its head sticking out. He liked the idea, though having to redo all 60 was not fun. They were all done by the time I got home though.

In the evening we went to the Snow Show with Pete and Royden. I’d already been on Thursday so was largely there for moral support (and to stop Glen from buying more things he didn’t need). He managed to find some new ski pants. The ones he bought last year were too loose and long. He bought some orange overall ones, which I think are the same as the ones I have. Pete bought a onesie, Royden bought gloves, and I didn’t get anything. And not only did I save us money by not buying anything, I also stopped Glen from buying a new ski jacket. See how much money I’m saving this family?

Konzelmann WinerySunday morning Pete and Royden drove us down to Niagara-on-the-Lake so we could go through our final walkthrough for the wedding. I’m so glad we did. There were a few little minor details that we picked up which would have been missed if we hadn’t gone down there again.

We also got a good idea of the weather. Sunday wasn’t a particularly warm day and our ceremony is going to be down on the shores of the lake. The area looks a lot different to when we were there last year. Then there was snow and ice, Sunday there was green grass and leaves on the vines. And a gazebo! We finalised a few more details, went inside, checked out the reception venue, sorted that out, and then we were done. The venue manager went off to another meeting with people wanting weddings, while we went and chose our final red wine.

Glen also bought a fruit bowl made from part of a wine barrel, and Pete and Royden bought us a table, also made from a wine barrel, which Glen really liked. They’re both lovely. We need a bigger apartment.

After the wedding stuff was done, we went for brunch at Le Bleu Tortoise, then stopped at Corbett’s in Oakville on the way back to try on ski boots. I’m so glad we got the boots from the store, rather than picking something at the Snow Show. Glen and I each had a sales assistant fit us for boots. My guy was a good looking young guy, who was a bit surly, while Glen had an older guy who joked around with us (by making fun of us) yet really knew his stuff. I wonder how his sense of humour goes down with the Canadians as he was well suited for the Australian way of customer service.

We found boots. Glen’s were more expensive than mine, so I helped reduce the difference by buying a new GoPro accessory that was on sale. We also bought ski boot bags and some socks. Very excited to get out and go skiing again. We also learned there’s a place in North York where you can go skiing on small hills in an evening. Might have to check that out.

Next we stopped at the outlet malls. Glen wanted a new winter coat so he could give his to his mum. He found one he liked, as did I. He bought his, I didn’t. Yet again, I saved us a lot of money. Am I appreciated because of it? Pete and Royden then looked in Restoration Hardware and finally it was time to go home. My cold was getting worse and I was nodding off in the car. Very glad to get home after such a busy day.

Only 9 days to go!

Wedding rings and The Boy With Tape On His Face

Just 12 days until the wedding. And I think I’m getting sick. I woke up with a burning throat and a semi-blocked nose. I think the low level anxiety over the past few months has started to creep through now that more things are organised and it’s getting close to W-Day.

Despite this, however, it does feel like things are progressing. After getting another quote back from a bus company which is still too high, we’ve pulled the pin on the bus idea. Instead we’ll organise taxis for people to the venue, and then they can organise their own transport back so they can leave whenever they like. Now that that’s been sorted and everyone notified, I’m feeling less stressed about it.

Today Glen went to pick up our wedding rings. I hadn’t heard a definitive yes that my ring was ready, though I suspected it was. Glen’s was ready too. He was keen to pick it up so went after work. I stayed at home and tidied the apartment, which made me feel much better. I got a message from him soon after he got there. The jeweller had made the wrong ring. He’d asked for Summit, and she’d made Mountain Range.

Cutie that Glen is, he thought that maybe the jeweller had taken artistic licence and every ring was made differently. He wasn’t going to say anything, but he didn’t actually like the new ring and considering it wasn’t cheap, he asked why it looked so different from the one he’d requested. The poor shop assistant’s face fell.

Luckily it was the designer who’d made the wrong ring and the design he wanted had been ordered correctly. The jeweller was mortified and has promised to get it sorted by the time of the wedding. It certainly makes for a good story.

My ring looks wonderful, and is a combination of white gold and a red wood. I have funny shaped fingers so if I look at it too much it looks like it doesn’t fit properly, but in actual fact it’s fine. It fits on my finger well, isn’t too tight, isn’t loose. Will take some getting used to wearing a ring on that finger. I’ve worn a ring on my right middle finger since 2004 and barely notice it now. Am sure the wedding band will be the same.

This evening Glen and I went to see The Boy With Tape On His Face. It was a comic puppetry/non-verbal/physical performance show that involved music and a lot of audience participation. I’d seen it in London last year with Donna and thought it was well worth seeing again. I was really happy there were only three segments that I’d seen before. Glen laughed a lot through it, which made me happy. The audience loved it too. It lasted 70 minutes and then we went and had late night food.

Life is good.

The bus saga continues

Our wedding is less than two weeks away. I’m still trying to organise transportation for people from their hotels in Niagara Falls/Niagara on the Lake to the winery and back again. This has been going on for months.

When I first looked into it, I thought I’d found a good option with a double decker bus company. They were initially keen, and gave me a reasonable price. I then left it for a while as I was waiting for more quotes to come in, and also seeing exactly how many people would need to be on the bus.

Once I got my final numbers (37), I then contacted them again, only to be told firstly that they couldn’t go down some of the routes, and then, after I’d queried if alternative routes could be accommodated, told that they didn’t want the bus out that late (1am) because of trouble in the past. Thank you and goodbye.

My next option was taxis. I got a price for how much each trip would cost for a van and it looks like this will be the option we’ll be going down. However, I thought I’d investigate buses again and get some more prices.

Most were in the $1500 to $2000 range, which is at least double the cost of taxis. I did, however, get a price from a school bus operator which seemed almost too good to be true. I should have locked it in then, but we were meeting with the venue coordinator shortly after receiving the quote and I wanted to ask his advice. He gave me the contact for a guy at Niagara Falls town council as the city buses are available for hire.

After taking a week to get back to me, this guy said it wasn’t possible and flicked me off to Niagara Parks Commission. I eventually got a quote from them which was $2200. This was to use normal city buses, public transport stock essentially. I was not impressed.

I went back to the school bus people to confirm the price. Yes, that was fine but I’d have to lock it in quick as bus drivers were being booked up. I said go for it. I then get an email today saying the 1am part of the trip couldn’t be accommodated because there were now no drivers available.

I went back to Niagara Falls city council to enquire if there was anything that they could do, only to be told that this time, because there was another event on, they were committed. Thank you and goodbye.

Perhaps, thought I, the school bus company could do the 2pm journey, getting everyone to the winery but then taking taxis back. Oh no, sorry, not possible. The drivers are all committed to collecting school kids but if I was willing to have people get picked up earlier then they could do that, as long as they were done by two. Umm, excuse me, but why did you say you could do that part of the journey one minute, only to later turn around and say you couldn’t?

I am thoroughly over the whole thing, yet, like some sort of masochist, I have continued one other bus company to see how exorbitant their prices are. Failing this, it’s taxis. The whole rest of the wedding has been easier to organise than two trips on a bloody bus!

Our 1300 km trip on Nova Scotia and Cape Breton comes to a close

We went to bed early on Monday night. There’s not much to do in a yurt. We hunkered down beneath a very heavy thick quilt and attempted to find the balance between the heat from our bodies and the blankets, and the chill coming from outside. Can you believe that I was actually more hot than cold?

I slept pretty well, thankfully not needing to get up to pee in the middle of the night. We heard a coyote howling at one point during the night so there was an even greater incentive to hold it in. Glen woke up before me, then woke me up to ask me to walk to the toilet with him. It was 6:30am. I refused and tried to go back to sleep.

Eventually the sun started to rise and the yurt started to be filled with red light (it was a red yurt). We stayed in bed until about 8:30 when we got up, got dressed and went for breakfast in the main house. It was simple food. Glen called Rob back home to talk about work, and then we went for a walk through the orchard. We were treated to the very cute sight of a little red squirrel munching on some notes while he was sitting on a sign. He didn’t seem too bothered with us, until he dropped his nuts and then he went a bit psycho.

We left Cabot Shores about 10, stopped into the pewter shop (where we learnt that pewter is made of 92% tin), then drove down the coast, seeing even more spectacular scenery. Green, red, yellow and orange trees lined the coast and it was just an awesome experience to be driving down through it. I also got the sensation that I somehow wanted to take even more of it in, like what I was seeing wasn’t enough, that I had to have all of it. It was very bizarre. I felt greedy.

Usige Ban Falls

We drove to Usige Ban Falls, another recommendation from the Cape Breton tourism lady in Halifax. Once again she did not disappoint. We set off on our little walk through sun dappled forest beside a clear running river. It wasn’t a long walk but it was beautiful. The falls at the end were lovely and the water so clear. We stayed for a while, and it was just one of those sublime moments where you try to breathe it all in. A very peaceful place, even with the eight other people there. Apparently after rain it’s an even more impressive sight.

On the walk out we passed a tree that had green-and-red leaves, where the centres were green but the edges were red. I’ve never seen anything like it before. It was really bizarre and unexpected. Just before we left the trail, we passed about thirty people coming in. They’d arrived on a tour bus and I was really glad we’d got there when we did, and were able to enjoy the falls with little distraction.

It was lunchtime by the time we got out so we drove to Baddeck, ate some pizza, sent postcards, and then began the four hour journey home. A bit more traffic on a Tuesday afternoon and there were some roadworks, but otherwise the drive was easy. I got a bit distressed see a dead coyote on the side of the road. It had a very fluffy coat and looked just like a dog having a sleep. Poor baby.

Back to Halifax and Toronto

We decided to go into downtown Halifax for dinner so we hit rush hour traffic going over the Macdonald Bridge. We had dinner at The Bicycle Thief, ordering more food than we actually needed, and eating it way too fast. Glen had a surf and turf (though with half a lobster), and a clam chowder to start. I had calamari then lobster ravioli. Definitely ate too fast as we rolled out of there feeling a bit sick. I had been anxious about getting the car back to the airport in time but we didn’t really realise we had plenty of time ahead of us.

We got to the airport very early, cleared the car out of all junk that had become strewn across the backseat over the past could of days, then returned it. Over four days, I drove for 18 hours over a distance of 1300km. I am a bit over driving now.

We passed through security with no problem and then waited about two hours for our flight. The flight was quick and the best thing of all was Julian collected us from the airport. It’s normally an hour ride on public transport from the airport to our place, which isn’t fun at 11:30pm. So grateful for him picking us up (he also brought us pizza). It wasn’t long after getting home that we tumbled into bed and fell asleep.

Do I need to visit Nova Scotia again? I still want to see the Bay of Fundy, and Parrsboro and Digby would be nice to see. And seeing the Cabot Trail again would be good, although at a slower pace perhaps. We probably won’t hurry back, especially as we want to see Bay of Fundy from the New Brunswick side. Then we would have been to 9 of the 13 provinces. I’d better look at some flights.

And finally, here’s a video of the highlights from the four days…