Sunday, July 11, 2010

Toronto to Winnipeg (Via Rail - literally!)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (25)

Staring out of windows, stretching your legs in places like the Hornepayne, spur of the moment country music and learning to play poker... what better way is there to get from A to B?

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (38)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (44)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (46)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (53)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (62)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (75)

Train from Toronto to Winnipeg (76)

More here or in the slideshow below...

Augusta Avenue, Toronto

Oh, how I loved my crazy house and Kensington Market which it’s in. I don’t think there is anywhere else in the city you could step outside your door and feel an immediate buzz. It's a real surreal sort of place where you almost feel like you could be on some street off a beach in Thailand where they sell lots of Tibetan, Indian and Jamaican clothing and jewellery... as well as feeling like you could be in Brick Lane or Camden as it's also full of vintage stores, foodie markets and bars/restaurants with plenty of space for alfresco dining/drinking moments. Life is so good in the Summer. There is a square over the road where there is always music being played... especially when the sun is shining. Several times there have been drumming circles. The other day, a sort of jazz band were playing and on my last night, housemate Brock was playing sitar whilst his fellow band member, Nick, played the Tabla to a very appreciative audience there. It's a rare occasion where I'd walk down the street and not see a band playing in a bar/cafe. In fact, I haven't yet!
Living here makes it hard to venture too far away from it. There are restaurants and bars as well as great market stalls. I will miss popping into the Market Bakery to breathe in freshly baked bread and pick a new loaf to try out. I’ll also really miss the Global Cheese shop – every time I go in, one of the staff asks what I’m after and you can say something vague and they’ll just say ‘try this’ and I love it!  Will also miss wandering around the vintage stores even if I wasn't buying anything - I still loved looking at the clothes/shors/random bits and pieces.

I have also lived with some people who I can quite happily say are some of my favourite people. It’s a big ol’ house where I’ve been a couch surfer/room surfer, actual tenant and back to couch surfer whilst I prepared to catch the train heading west to Winnipeg. I’ve loved getting to know the range of people I’ve lived with here. I’ve got to listen to some great music (on top of rooftops and out and about – such talented folk here!), eaten some fabulous food (that I didn’t have to cook), BBQ’d, drunk tasty and sometimes-made-up-whilst-drunk cocktails, gone for a spot of late night swimming, got on telly (watch this space!) and just been super chilled chatting about general randomness in the kitchen. Thank you Brock, Heleni, Emma, James, Chris, Kim, Lesley, Amy and especially Severine who very kindly accepted my couch surf request in the first place!

Welcome to Augusta Avenue 

Toronto - Augusta Avenue (10)


Severine - thank you!!!
Toronto - Severine's house party (21)

First house party (and Severine's last)

Toronto - Severine's house party (30)

Brock (the cook, the musician, the host with the most!)
Toronto - dinner! (18)

Heleni - dancing to greek music on the rooftop
Toronto - Music on the rooftop (10)

James, aka Tradition - here he is playing at Double Double Land
Toronto - Double Double Land

Emma, makes the best cocktails whilst drunk - as well as the funniest poses (tho' Brock in the back doesn't do too badly at it either...).  Honestly, I think these two might just be what make me love Canadians.

Toronto - Augusta Avenue

And, here just before my cab to the station... All change at Augusta Ave - the awesome scots arrive! Kim, Brock, Amy, Lesley, me and Emma
ooh, now I can't forget our (far too friendly cute and a little scary) neighbours...

Raccoons at Augusta Avenue (4)

Thank you Augusta Avenue. 

Home for a bit
More photos here

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Hot, hot, hot in the city!

In preparing for Canada, I got a lot of 'wow, it's really cold there' and despite knowing I'd miss the winter, I figured I should play it safe and packed lots of warm clothes etc.  Good heavens, I can't remember the last time I had a spring/summer quite like this.  The sun shines pretty much every day (okay so there might have been a week in May where it was a bit miserable but it was quite a relief really!).  It's 30 degrees out and it's quarter to midnight. 

I'm rather tempted to pay a visit to the local outdoor pool...  apparently they open 'til midnight in extreme heat.  But after a similarly scorchy day yesterday, a few of us decided to check out the local outdoor pool for a night time swim but found it closed.  Anyway, we could see signs for 'no diving' and 'no running' but none for 'no trespassing' so we climbed the fence.  Being as graceful as I am, I managed to get a big scratch on my leg. Then after saying 'well, we're here now, we may as well get in the pool', I took a step forward and promptly fell in!!  haha, it was pure comedy. I just wish I'd seen it, ha!  I also now have a burn type bruise on my arm to match the scratch on my leg.  It's the pool I use everyday so the lifeguards know me. I'm sure there's cameras around so don't feel I can show my face there again, haha!  Oh well, I guess it's a good thing I'm leaving on a nearly midnight train to Winnipeg tomorrow ;o)

Monday, July 05, 2010

More getting away... Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls (35), originally uploaded by LunaModule.

Put simply - awesome!

More from Niagara here.

Or in this slideshow...

Getting away from the city...

Toronto Island (21), originally uploaded by LunaModule.

But not really that far - Toronto Island, got to be my favourite place in T.O. after Kensington market.

The first time I met up with my housemate and his friends - walking through the island with snowing dandelion fluff making it all look rather magical. After food at the cafe on Ward's Island (made me feel like I was in a surf shack), we headed down to St Andrew's by the Lake to catch a gig - all very lovely.

I visited again with new friend Lucie - we biked around to check out the small village and various beaches (sadly didn't make it to the clothing optional beach!) and then to pick up a canoe for a wander around the lake. We went to the marina after for a burger and beers by the water and in the sunshine - bliss! Ended up being invited to someone's boat on the island for wine, cheese and crackers and watching the sunset whilst listening to some blues. Really, just perfect ;o) I really, really want to live on a boat now! Plus I got to meet a Newfoundlander which was exciting. I'd heard so much about howsuper friendly they are and they sound more like they're irish. All true!

Toronto Island (29), originally uploaded by LunaModule.
View whilst we drank our beers

Toronto Island (39), originally uploaded by LunaModule.

I reckon I could live there for a bit...

Toronto Island (26), originally uploaded by LunaModule.

Toronto Island, originally uploaded by LunaModule.

View from Toronto island close to sunset.

More photos from the island here

Or in this slideshow...

Toronto awash with Queens

So after a weekend of G20 craziness, it was time for a love fest in the city – thank you Pride! After breakfast and dropping off Brock’s little sister at the station, we decided to join the other folk waiting for a glimpse of the Queen who was staying at the hotel opposite the station.

The whole spectacle was quite amusing really!  More exciting the Queen, I got to see a cool looking cop in a gold helmet and very cool looking motorcycle (would have fitted in well with Pride!).

She was off to church and then to a horse race.  She so should have gone to the parade - she'd have had a blast...

For Armin...

Toronto - Pride Parade (5), originally uploaded by LunaModule.
More photos from Pride here...

Toronto - Pride Parade (2), originally uploaded by LunaModule.

The Queen of hearts

Toronto - Pride Parade (4), originally uploaded by LunaModule.
Pride on wheels

Food, cameras, action!

Kensington Market - El Barrio, originally uploaded by LunaModule.
Very funny – after watching one of those dreadful England matches, me and housemate, Brock, decided to pig out on chips, chocolate and watch a movie so we popped out to get supplies and ended up spotting a new restaurant opening...along with a film crew and a celebrity chef so we decided to go and check it out. We had to sign off a sheet to say we were willing to be filmed. Oh my god, every bloody time that camera came near me I'd happen to look right at the camera stuffing a forkful of food into my mouth. I'm sure there's a shot of me just chomping on food with a bit of rocket sticking out. I hope they edit it kindly... here's a trailer for the show to get recruits (the restaurant he's by is the one we were in and the road I live on).

ooh, we also saw Rachel McAdams on the street getting on her bike. The crew went to talk to her I think to try and get her to come in for the show but she wasn't keen.