Our first week home

We’ve been back just over a week and we’ve been busy. On the Friday we returned, despite being tired from the flight, I was keen to knock a few things off our ‘return home’ list. First up, a fridge, then a bed, and then phones and internet. With the fridge and the bed, it seems that stores are desperate for your business nowadays and offer discounts on discounted prices without being asked.

For example, the woman at the first place automatically knocked a couple of hundred off the fridge (but we didn’t end up getting it). We almost bought a new curved TV with OLEDs for $4000 but luckily, we left the store before we handed over any money, and then laughed in the car that we’d almost bought the damn thing. Shopping tired is a dangerous thing.

We eventually bought a fridge from the place down the road which was even cheaper again. The beds was a hard one though (no pun intended). We tried one shop. I slept on nearly every mattress and finally narrowed it down to one that I liked. But Glen had gone into the store next door to use their washroom (yes, I wrote washroom. Canada still has its teeth in me.) and they also sold beds and mattresses, so after getting one price from the store I was in, we then went next door and got the hard sell from them and eventually got a good deal on a bed frame, side tables and a king mattress. They said they’d deliver by the end of the week (meaning Friday just gone) but it’s Sunday and we still don’t have it, which is rather annoying.

We then went into Subiaco, had some lunch, bumped into Kerrin, then went to iiNet to set up internet and get phones. The salesman was uninspiring and not very good at his job. We nevertheless walked out with a bundle including SIMs for our phone which were meant to work in the next couple of hours. They didn’t and it took me going into the store the next day to get mine to work. Glen’s required another two phone calls after that to get them to work.

We’ve seen a whole lot of family since returning to Australia. Friday night we went out for dinner with members of both families. This was also the first time we’d gotten to meet Glen’s nephew, who is one year old now. He’s adorable, though not yet enamoured with his two uncles. We saw more family on Saturday afternoon, and my grandmother on Saturday night, then went up to Chidlow on Sunday afternoon to see yet more family on Glen’s side. Chidlow was nice as it was the first time I’ve been ‘out in the bush’ for a couple of years. We didn’t see any kangaroos but I did see some 28s (parrots) and some white-tailed black cockatoos. It was a beautiful day too.

Through most of the week, we slept at Dad’s though Glen spent a few nights at our home alone because there was one single mattress that we’d kept. I eventually borrowed another single mattress and moved it home. Driving up and down the freeway between the two houses was starting to get to me. Not that it’s a long drive but it’s not a great drive and I was sick of it after only a few days. I don’t know how people do it every day.

We unpacked everything pretty quickly, I’d say. Considering how many boxes there were. We moved all the boxes to their relevant rooms and then started unpacking from there. Glen couldn’t believe how many boxes were going into his study. It was kind of like Christmas. “And who’s this one for? Glen!” I still had plenty to go through.

I managed to get rid of about six boxes of books, a box of CDs and a whole lot of papers. I’ve still got one bookshelf full of stuff but there isn’t a lot of other things dotted around the place now. My study is pretty much setup, though I’m waiting to move the couch back in there and looking forward to buying a new desktop computer. Glen also threw out a lot (though he’s squirrelled a lot of stuff away into the cupboard). Unfortunately my external hard drive that I brought back from Canada has stopped working and I’m concerned I won’t be able to retrieve what’s on it: namely every photo I took during the past two years. I get a sick feeling in my stomach just thinking about it. Trying to remain hopeful.

We’ve been shopping for more things like clothes horses and rubbish bins (Bunnings), glasses, towels and chopping boards (IKEA) and a vacuum cleaner (Harvey Norman – again, another bargain as they price matched with Myer and we got it for about a third off the original price). We also bought new bikes from the store down the road on Saturday. They’re amazing. So light. It might actually make riding a pleasure now.

Glen’s been working in the garden a lot. The planter boxes that Glen made still have some things growing in them, other than weeds. We have a lot of mint, thyme, parsley and oregano. We even have some rhubarb. The vines along the lattice (which is broken thanks to the builders putting up the new fence which is shorter than the one before) are mostly dead. The rest of the garden is covered with weeds. Glen has attacked it all with gusto and made great progress. He even chopped down an invasive tree that had grown so tall while we were away (it had been planted by the tenant).

Other than that, we haven’t been doing much socialising as yet. We’re a bit stranded at the moment without a car and my headspace has been all about settling back into the house. We’ll be getting the cat back soon, which will be nice.

I’m missing Toronto a lot, probably more than Glen, who’s happy to have his garden back and not to be constantly asked where his accent comes from. It’s particularly hard at the moment as it’s summer in Canada and friends are going hiking, or enjoying the sunshine, or going travelling. I also miss our apartment and the view. And I miss our friends. I return to work tomorrow which will be an adjustment, having not had to work a full day in quite a while. Trying to fit in the rest of my life around that is going to be difficult as well, and I still haven’t been to the gym. Or been writing.

Still, life isn’t bad. I’ll adapt before long and then will have something to compare to. Perhaps Toronto will be home again. Perhaps not. Time will tell. And it has only been a week.

As for this blog? I’d like to keep it going but calling it Two Aussies in Canada and writing about non-Canadian things seems a bit odd to me. I’ll have a think about it and see whether it’s worth setting up a new one or just continue with this. We’ve got some travel coming up (though not in Canada) so it’d be good to put those adventures somewhere.

The long journey home

We tried to sleep late again and got a little bit further into the day. We went for breakfast on the hotel, came back, worked on our laptops and then, with an hour left to spare, decided to get some sunshine and fresh air. Taste, a free food festival, was happening a couple of streets away (we could see it from our window) so we figured we’d check it out.

Now when I say ‘free’ I mean that entry was free. Everything else inside had to be paid for. We went through the security lines with their big signs saying, ‘No guns!’ then got patted down. Bit confronting to think that guns are in such supply that they need to tell people not to bring then to a public event. Strange.

We didn’t stay long. We didn’t want to buy the food tickets. We walked up a ways then turned around, returned to the hotel, checked out and jumped in a cab. The ride was quicker than expected so we arrived with plenty of time to spare. This meant we could hang out in the business class lounge!

Check-in was pleasant and quick. Security didn’t take long either. We then went into the loung, ate some food, drank some drinks, listened to some terrible tv show where men suspected of cheating on their girlfriends undergo a lie detector test (all while screaming and shouting at each other). Ugh. It was dreadful. Eventually I asked for it to be switched to anything else. We got baseball. That was heaven in comparison. Meanwhile a couple were having an argument in the corner about how much money they’d saved on a taxi ride and why the husband disregards the wife so often. He sounded like a dickhead.

Eventually it was time to board. Our seats were in a group of eight separated from everybody else, and there were only two other people in our area so it was like it was all ours. How decadent! We settled in. We had some drinks. The lunch service was extensive. I finished reading my book then started watching movies.

First was The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron. It was terrible. Lazy plot and writing, filled with explosions and fight scenes that got boring after a while. Even James Spader’s voice wasn’t enough to save this film. The second film was much better: Woman in Gold with Helen Mirren and Ryan Reynolds. It was about the true story of an Austrian woman’s fight to have Klimt’s Woman in Gold returned rightfully to her after the Nazi’s stole it. Excellent film. I had tears. The third film was a French film called Une heure de Tranquillitė. Typical comedy, light-hearted and fun.

After the movies, I slept on and off for five hours. It’s such heaven to be able to lie flat on a flight. Then it was breakfast (or rather dinner) before we landed in Hong Kong. Our 16 hour trip had come to an end…though we still had farther to go.

We went to the loung briefly as our stopover was only short and then boarded our flight to Perth a little late due to bad weather around Hong Kong. Business class was a lot more full this time around. We got fed and wanted. We slept for a few hours but due to the ‘short’ 7.5 hour flight and two meals (couldn’t miss eating), we didn’t get long.

We arrived in Perth at 5:30am, about half an hour earlier than expected. Passport control was a breeze thanks to the ePassport thing. Our luggage was waiting for us. There was a bit of a queue at Customs and Glen was expecting big trouble over the wood ornaments we had in luggage but they waved us through. I think we were waiting outside by 6am and because everyone knows international passengers always take so long to come through, no family were there waiting for us.

They eventually arrived. We had a coffee/tea and then got in separate cars because we had so much luggage and then went back to our house in Maylands. We’d had everything moved from my grandmother’s and dumped in our place a few days before. I couldn’t believe how much stuff we had and dreaded the unpacking. But we could do that later. We closed up the house and went back to Dad’s.

And did I mention how bloody cold it is here? By no means is it Canadian winter cold but the houses are not built for winter and we’re not wearing seven layers. It’s horrendous!


In limbo in the Mid-West

Tiredness, blackout curtains and having nowhere to be weren’t enough to stop us from waking up at 7am. True that due to the time difference between Toronto and Chicago, 7am was 8am to us, but wouldn’t you think we could push past that and have a nice lie in?

Apparently not.

We got up and took our time getting ready before rumbling bellies sent us out into the streets, fighting against the flow of office workers, and walked to a cafe that we’d been to before. We ate food. It wasn’t as good as Glen remembered but it filled a spot. We discussed what we wanted to do in Chicago. Having been a few times before, we didn’t really have much we wanted to see so we went over some old ground.

We walked down last the Art Institute and saw a silver cowboy on a silver horse (sculpture), then continued down to our main goal, the statue of Daphne. Unfortunately it wasn’t covered in vines so we didn’t get to see the full effect this time (in the right season the sculpture is covered in vines, leaves and flowers so gives the impression of being Daphne the wood nymph). We then walked past the big Native American sculptures, up through Millennium Park to the Cloudgate and then back to the hotel.

We spent most of the rest of the day in the hotel. I felt a little guilty but as we’d been to Chicago a few times before, there weren’t many must-see things left to do. I think we also just wanted to do not very much. Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries arrived as a gift organised by Dave, much to our surprise. The strawberries were delicious, though.

We had a nap in the afternoon. I then went to the gym as I hadn’t been for about a week and was starting to feel crappy. In the evening, we walked down the street and had dinner at Petterino’s. They have caricatures on the walls and we were sharing dinner with Bebe Neuwirth, David Hyde Pearce and Robin Williams. The food was good too. We took a quick de

Once back at the hotel, we stumbled upon My Big Fat Greek Wedding on the TV so watched that, had a laugh, and then went to bed.



It’s hard to say goodbye if you won’t leave

The title of this post comes from an episode of Frasier where a promising relationship between Frasier and a woman called Kate is cut short because she’s moving to another city. He comes to the airport to say goodbye but her flight keeps getting delayed but they don’t mind, at first, because it gives them time to talk and eventually, sadly, discover they are not compatible. She eventually leaves on a different flight and they finally say goodbye.

While we didn’t have anyone at the airport waiting around for us to leave (not least because airport security nowadays don’t let people who don’t have a boarding pass through to the gate), we had plenty of memories and emotions gouging into us as we waited for our 6:22pm flight to Chicago.

After getting through security and additional screening we arrived at our gate with plenty of time to spare. Once settled I received a phone call from the airline saying the flight had been delayed 40 minutes, until 7pm. A little annoying but time enough to continue writing blog posts and sending them out.

But then came another announcement. Due to the thunderstorms in Chicago, the plane was late getting out. It was on its way but our departure time was now pushed even further to 8:30pm. Glen and I looked at each other. We needn’t have been so hasty to get to the airport, for sure, but we also were gripped with a fear that our flight would in fact be outright cancelled and we’d have to return to Toronto and try again the next day. Neither of us liked the prospect of repeating goodbyes. Perhaps we could just stay at a hotel nearby and not tell anyone (except Glen would put it on Facebook before the announcement had even finished).

We waited, at times thinking fondly and sadly about leaving Toronto. We got hungry so we went and had chicken salad at one of the airport restaurants and talked over how apprehensions about being at home and what was required of us when we got there. Where were we going to buy a bed? Could we get a dishwasher without ripping up the kitchen? Should we go out on Saturday night? The siren’s call of life in Perth had already begun, which inspired no end of guilty feelings.

We returned to the gate. The flight was delayed further but at least the plane had arrived. We would be boarding at 9pm. When the time came, we were one of the first to get on and in fact, we had them very first row. We were offered a drink, I hadn’t bourbon and ginger ale. I continued to read my book. Eventually, we were boarded and the plane started to taxi.

Glen and I held hands and looked out the window at the darkening night sky. I wanted to see as much of Toronto as I could on our last flight out as residents. Tears came easily as we said goodbye to what had been an amazing two years and to a life that was so rich and rewarding. It was a death. As taxiing continued Glen started to flick through a few months of photos on his phone, showing scenes from a great many things in a small space of time, some I’d even forgotten about.

Then the plane waited, making plane waiting noises, and then, it made different noises. Shutting down noises. Then an announcment. We had missed our window of departure and would have to wait on the tarmac for 40 minutes. Groans rippled down the plane. I shot up and ran to the loo at the back of the plane, desperate to pee. Once back in my seat, I continued to read. Glen played Candy Crush. Our poignant farewell had been lost. Now we were just wanting to be gone, to rip the bandaid off completely rather than having it slowly pull each individual hair.

The plane started up again 40 minutes later and we took off. Toronto had been completely shrouded in night by then. Our eyes were drier. We were on our way to Chicago.

The flight was only an hour or so long. We landed in a wet Chicago, collected our luggage and, being appalled at having to pay $5 to use the luggage trolley, we lumbered out to the taxi rank with our six pieces of luggage, looking a little like insane backpackers.

We joined the taxi queue, eventually getting everything into one taxi. The drive was a little hair raising as the driver zoomed through the Chicago rain to get to our hotel. Dave and Antony had booked us two nights at the Fairmont Millennium Park so we had somewhere really nice to stay (otherwise we would have just stayed near the airport). We arrived around midnight and checked into a suite that was larger than our apartment at home. It wasn’t long before we were in bed and asleep, the first leg of our week-long journey home.


To ease the transition
My little packhorse

How lucky I am…

CommunityI missed saying goodbye to Bec this morning as she went off to Crossfit early, but we said goodbye to Alastair as he went to work. Big hugs all round. Glen and I then went upstairs, did some washing, went for a croissant and coffee at Starbucks and then came back to finish cleaning the bathroom and the bedroom.

We then went to Julian’s and walked to Dollarama to buy some new padlocks for the suitcases, and then to the bank to change the account. Once we got back, we packed up the last of the washed clothes (amazingly everything fit), then Glen and Julian packed the car while I finished off the floors. The place is now squeaky clean.

It was then lunchtime and Glen and I hadn’t really had breakfast so the three of us walked into Yorkville and had lunch at Trattoria Nervosa. Glen had to spend a lot of time on the phone to Rogers trying to get his phone unlocked, only to be told he couldn’t for another two months, much to his intense annoyance.

We then ordered our food. Glen’s pizza arrived. He thought he’d ordered one with mushrooms. We nearly shouted at the waiter until he showed us that it wasn’t champignons but champagne tomatoes. We ate humble pie.

After lunch we went back to Julian’s and watched Muriel’s Wedding. This was the first time Julian had seen it and I’m not sure he loves it as much as we did but enjoyed watching it with us. It’s also given him a good taste of Australian culture.

The landlord showed up at 2:15 and I gave him back the keys. He gave me $200 back for the key deposit. At about 3pm, we all tumbled into the car with our mountain of suitcases and set off for the airport (going via the bank to deposit the money).

The PanAm Games are on in Toronto at the moment (like the Olympics but for the Americas). All week I’ve been saying “PanAm today. PanAm tomorrow. PanAm forever.” (from The Hunger Games). Because of the game’s, they’ve put in car pooling lanes on the freeway so we avoided a lot of traffic.

We were all a bit quiet or teary in the car on the way to the airport. Saying goodbye curbside was sad as well. We’ll see Julian at New Year’s but that’s still five-plus months away. We waved goodbye until the last minute.

We checked in, which was a longer process than it needed to be. We didn’t get to use the priority lane, even though we were in business. The line for US customs took forever (though the officer wasn’t unpleasant. In fact he was quite friendly). I then got selected for additional screening, which took forever to get through. We were then unable to get into the AA lounge because we’re not flying out of North America. And then we were informed our flight was delayed for 40 minutes.

Oh, and there are thunderstorms in Chicago.

Clearly, Canada does not want us to leave.

I don’t have the mental energy to do a recap of our two years in Canada at the moment, or of what we’re leaving behind, or to pour out any more emotions about this onto my blog, but I will say that one thing has kept surfacing in my head over the past month, and that’s a quote from Winnie-the-Pooh that says, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” I get a lump in my throat every time I think of it and realise truly how lucky I am to have had (and to have) so much.


All the feelings

Sunday was an emotional day. We woke up too early, after having the farewell party the night before. Yet we got up and got on with the cleaning. Glen went and bought chocolate croissants and coffee and we sat on the green rugs on our balcony eating them, talking about last night and the past two years and our lives ahead. I’m going to miss that view from the 40th floor.

We got on with the cleaning and it was a good team effort. The luggage was all sorted, the bathroom cleaned, the cupboards wipes as well. It all went a lot quicker than expected and didn’t involve any major arguments (surprisingly!). I wasn’t coping very well with the fact that we were leaving, not only the apartment, our new friends and Toronto, but also the life we’d built for ourselves. The emotional floodgates had opened and they weren’t looking to close any time soon.

To help remedy this, we went out for brunch with Pete, Royden and Julian to House-Maison on Church St. This restaurant had been open for nearly a year (if not longer) and I’d always wanted to try it so today I made the effort. We walked down the street, got a table, and ordered our food. It was pretty tasty. I had a duck confit hash which was incredibly rich. We talked a bit about the move but we also talked about normal things—the hot guys over the road, antiquing and motorbiking.

After brunch (which was really lunch, no matter what the Canadians say) we went home for a little while, chilled out at Julian’s, and then the three of us walked down to Yonge-Dundas Square to watch the new Pixar film, Inside Out, at the movies with Bec and Al. It was a slightly humid day and very bright so the walk down was warm but I enjoyed the normality of being in the city and soaking up the last of the smoggy atmosphere.

We met Bec and Al at the movies, took our seats, and then Bec asked where her glasses were. She’d asked me to bring them, and I’d gotten them out of their apartment…and left them at Julian’s. I raced off to get them and got back only a few minutes into the film, which was fine as Glen caught me up in about ten seconds.

This was not a good film to see on a day when I was already feeling pretty raw. The movie is about emotions, for god’s sake. It’s pretty emotional anyway, without the thoughts of our impending departure going through our heads. Despite this though, or perhaps because of the catharsis, I loved this movie and highly recommend going to see it.

After the film we caught the subway back up to home. It was to be our last subway ride. I recorded the announcement that is made when you get into the Bloor-Yonge station (which goes “Bloor-Yonge, Bloor-Yonge Station. This station connects with the Bloor-Danforth subway”). For some reason I just love the way the announcement sounds. I might use it as my ringtone.

We packed up a few more things at home (surprisingly there was some stuff still left) before heading out to dinner with Julian, Bec, Al, Pete and Royden for all-you-can-eat at Spring Rolls. We ate a tonne of food. We talked about normal things. We also talked about the horrors being committed by our government back home and about general politics.

Once we’d eaten way too much, we walked home and everyone came up to our apartment to go through the final few giveaways (there were a lot of toiletries that we’d forgotten to take down to the party, and Pete and Royden took our two green outdoor rugs from IKEA). We hung out on the balcony while the sun set. We jumped up and down on the balcony, freaking Glen out and tempting death. We then said more goodbyes and yet more again as we all tumbled into the elevator.

That is going to be one of the hardest things about leaving Canada, the fact that so many of our friends all live within one building. It’s totally unlike our living experience at home. It’s so wonderful and makes things easier but also makes bonding so much easier (and so much harder when we leave). Julian, Glen and I went to swap his brother’s car with his car and see the family’s new mansion. I was very quiet on the drive. Saying goodbyes, even when we’ll see them again, is so hard because it’s goodbye to this construction of life that we will never get again, even if we do move home.

I know life is full of goodbyes and that’s the nature of life, but it doesn’t make it all that easier. Especially when we’ve been having such a good time.

Once home, we went to Bec and Al’s and climbed into bed. They had already gone to sleep. I struggled to fall asleep, finally nodding off at 2pm, dreading Monday.

Dealing with Stupid People

Tuesday was a big moving day. Because we’d squished in a three-day trip to New Brunswick and the people who’d bought all our furniture were taking everything on Friday (while we’re away), everything had to be dismantled and sorted into going/not going.

The mattress disposal guys came at about 10:30, one of the guys an Australian from Newcastle who’d been here for five years. He loves it here. Lucky guy. When they arrived I got a call from the guy who was picking up the freight stuff.

He was going to go to the Rogers Centre, which is a big baseball pitch way downtown. Our street, though sharing a common word, is not anywhere near it, yet for some reason it was now my problem that this moron, who delivers things for a living, didn’t know where my street was.

It took an age to get him to understand that I did not live at the baseball pitch and that he would have to come uptown further to get to me. My tone was not pleasant by this stage yet he seemed to take it all in his stride.

Meanwhile, the mattress was disposed of without issue. I paid my money. They went away.

I then got another phone call from the delivery guy saying that one of the streets near me had been blocked off by police. I wanted to ask him why this was my problem. Instead I said he’d have to find another way to get there, to which he asked if the part of my street was open. I said it was, as it had been when I was there a few minutes before. He then waffled on about something else before finally asking if he needed to bring in a trolley. I said I’d bring all the boxes down to the lobby (because I could trust him to not get lost inside our condo).

He eventually arrived, blocked the driveway for the condo parking. I helped load the boxes into his van while he tried to make chit chat but I just wanted this man out of my life by that stage. He said the weather (it was raining) must make me feel like home and I said I wasn’t English but Australian. He then wanted to chat about the gym but I’d had enough. With the last box loaded onto his trolley, I asked if I had to sign anything. He said no. I said goodbye.

I have no idea whether we will see any of those boxes again.

By then it was time for lunch so I walked to the Nespresso store to recycle the used pods and then had Japanese for lunch. The rest of the afternoons I spent dismantling the bed and the day bed, doing loads of washing, and making sure that everything that was going was all stored in one area for ease of taking. 

In the evening Glen and I went to Bec and Al’s for dinner. They’re very kindly letting us stay in their spare room for our last nights in Toronto. Al had made a really nice pasta. We then rounded that off with some ice wine that had been chilling in our fridge for months, and some chocolates that Glen had received for his birthday. We chatted for a bit and then Glen and I watched a couple of episodes of Sense8 before going to bed.

It’s a bit sad looking at the apartment in its state of disarray, especially as we’re not really moving this stuff but we are moving home. When we come back on Friday to an even emptier apartment, I’m going to feel even more conflicted about this move home (I’ve been able to keep most of those feelings at bay by keeping busy). I did get sad going to bed in a bed that was not my own king size one. 

But life is full of changes. We adapt. We’ll be fine. The trick will be to make sure we’re happy as well. 🙂


Sculpture in Yorkville