Day 101 – The Carnival comes to town

On Friday we watched the carnival rides being set up at the memorial park across from the shops near our house. It rained most of the day Friday and Saturday so we headed over on Sunday morning which was sunny but cool and windy. This didn’t seem to worry Lachlan and Olivia who set off with their all day passes to get on as many rides as possible. Sharon would have been in her element checking out all the carnies. They’re an interesting crowd. They both met some friends when we went back for a second time after lunch and definitely got their monies worth. It’s great to hear the laughter and screams and see the big grins on their faces.
I bought myself a laptop and a bike lock today. As soon as the weather gets better I plan to do some more exploring. The laptop is for work, I started working in sales this week. Cross your fingers for me. Bit of an unknown but at least I will never see them again if I stuff up.

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Day 99 – We’ve got tickets to see Jerry Seinfeld!

Friday 25 April – ANZAC Day Lest We Forget. It feels strange to have nobody talking about our Anzacs today, usually such a celebration around honouring our soldiers.

No public holiday here and as such the show must go on, Jerry that is. Garry had managed to find tickets on line to a previously sold out concert. The warm up act was a comedian who has been on Saturday night live. He was great but I didn’t catch his name. Pity because he was really funny.
Jerry came on to a standing ovation. Garry and I sat in awe, not believing we were actually seeing him. It’s hard to believe he is 59 already. The voice and the mannerisms are all the same though. He had some great stories about marriage, mobile phone addiction and his family life. There were times Garry and I were nearly wetting ourselves laughing. He’s still got it. Left on an absolute high, worth every penny.

Day 95 – Easter in Toronto

First stop Mississauga – Skyzone is a trampoline warehouse that the kids have been keen to try since we got here. We booked tickets on line and the kids had a ball. For an hour they jumped, tumbled, slam dunked and somersaulted to their hearts delight. Lachie’s gymnastics skills came in handy which made him a bit of an attraction. All four were sweating by the time they finished but could still manage to ask for Tim Hortons all the way to Toronto. Our hotel was in the middle of the entertainment district right beside the main attractions including the CN tower, which was the tallest tower in the world until Dubai started building its towers. We had adjoining rooms, full kitchens and buffet breakfast included (not to mention cable TV which had us all excited).

After a great breakfast and ordinary coffee we headed to the Ontario Science Museum for some hands on activity. We roamed halls full of interactive exhibits and learned about the history of science. This was Damon’s favourite. He couldn’t get enough of all the experiments and was constantly finding something new to do.

After a brief stop for shawermas and Tim Hortons, we visited the Toronto Zoo which is north of the city. The main exhibit was the two giant pandas which were amazing. We got to see them up quite close and they graced us with an opportunity to watch them eat, poop and roam around. Got some great video and pics. We each had a couple of favourites. The lemurs put on a fabulous comedy act for us, the otters were very playful in and out of the water and the zebra sounded like a hoarse teenager. They also had an Australiana section which had some tree kangaroos and not much else. The lack of drop bears was disappointing. The grizzly bears were the ones we had come to see up close. They were much bigger than I had imagined and quite awe inspiring. Definitely glad they were on the other side of the glass.

After a long day and lots of walking we were all quite happy to eat leftovers and settle in for a night of hockey, with a late night run to starbucks across the street of course.

The next morning we headed up the CN tower for a birds eye view of the city. It was spectacular but there was no way I was going anywhere near the glass floor. I had to give Lachlan my camera to take pictures for me.

Lunch was at a classy place called Jack Astors, a chain restaurant catering for all the sports buffs. It was very relaxed and entertaining.

Mum and I then decided to walk through Chinatown in search of the souvenirs that were so expensive everywhere else whilst the boys and Olivia went back for a swim. We found exactly what we wanted plus a whole range of interesting food stalls. The architecture around the city surprises you at each corner. So much variety within walking distance of our hotel.

On our way home the next day we found a park to stop off at which had an amazing playground for the kids and a free zoo. The only thing it didn’t have was a Tim Hortons. Soon enough, however, the hot dog stall was in action and the ice cream van had pulled up to the delight of all the kids.

It didn’t take long for them all to fall asleep on the way home. Awesome weekend!

Goodnight beautiful people xx

Day 90 & 91 – A few days with Damon and Mum before they go

I gave my kids a choice of a day off school in the last week we have with our visitors. Lachlan chose Wednesday to go with Damon to watch Adam play in a badminton tournament for his school. Most exciting part of the day was finding a two storey McDonalds and having lunch. The playground slippery dip started on the second floor. Supersize everything.
Adam and Olivia had the next day together with Mum and Damon. We went for a walk to the park and played Risk all day, topped off with a Tim Hortons iced capp.
The kids all enjoyed their afternoons playing hockey and badminton on the road with the neighbours.

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Day 88 – Snow in April

Today we had a top of -1 and more snow. Most of the winter snow had already melted and we had a high of 19 on Sunday. What the……
Anyway it was really quite beautiful. We got plenty of photos and visited some waterfalls. The farms and outlying property look like Christmas cards at the moment.
Damon and I even had a snowball fight which I won because I’m clearly more Canadian.
Mum and I had a tour of Garry’s school. Note that family studies is actually a course and those are irons and baby capsules you can see. We liked the aboriginal art above one classroom door.
Goodnight beautiful people Jxx

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Day 86 – Visiting Buffalo, New York and Niagara Falls, USA (Sunday April 13)

Our motive for today’s trip was to travel into the USA, get passports stamped and check out whether the shopping is cheaper. Tick, tick, tick.
We drove down to the border early on Sunday morning in hopes of beating the rush. Last time the Seary family crossed over it took nearly 2 hours (maybe someone up there wasn’t happy). We were directed to the admin building to get visas for mum and Damon. I decided to take video of the area for posterity. Bad idea. Was almost arrested on the spot. Crabby customs lady didn’t take well to my obvious photo opportunity. Supportive family then spent the time inside putting shit on me in a most unsavoury manner. BUT I still have video of the border crossing. Sshhh…
After getting all our passports back we set of in search of a shopping centre and bargains using our GPS. The first one we came to ended up being an empty lot in a very dodgy area. Mum kept telling the kids not to stare at people. I’m sure she was expecting a car jacking at any moment.
As we started to pass better neighbourhoods (less cars in front yards, no barbed wire, unbroken windows etc) we found what we were looking for. We loved the variety of shops and opportunity to find gifts. Best find – joggers $50, $200 in Oz.
Finding our way around was quite easy. We had no right blinker so had to wave and say sorry a few times and just hope we didn’t p#%\ anyone off too much. Pretty sure they have guns in Walmart somewhere in America. On our way back we decided to go through Niagara Falls and look at them from the other side. There seems to be a rivalry between the two countries over which side is better. We were able to park quite close and walk over a bridge to see the American falls and then a little further to see Niagara. It was awesome seeing it from the other side. There was still plenty of snow to see as well. We took some lovely pictures and found more souvenirs and the kids loved stretching their legs and playing footy in the park. The border crossing at Niagara was easy and much more pleasant. I would say I enjoyed both sides of the falls equally but will happily change my mind according to whomever I’m talking to in the future.
A brilliant day had by all. I’m glad Mum and Damon can now say they’ve been to New York (state).
Good night beautiful people Jxx.

Day 84 – Niagara Falls in spring

We picked today to go to the falls because the weather was going to be a lovely 17oC and Thursday being less busy. Mum and I were tempted to stop off at the wineries on the way. The ice wines, which are a specialty in this region, are quite sweet because the temperature increases the sugar content of the grapes. They are enjoyed more as a dessert wine than a table wine. It’s on my list to do before we go.
We found our way pretty easily and cheaper parking at the top of Clifton hill too. I took everyone across the top of the strip through all the high rise hotels and then walked down the hill to a beautiful view of the American falls. It still had plenty of ice bergs remaining where the ice had been 50ft thick under the falls. It was incredible to see how much of the ice had thawed in the 6 weeks since we had been the first time. The river is now flowing where it had all been covered before and we could only see a 3ft wide section of the flow.
A short stroll up from there were the Niagara Falls. Incredibly beautiful and powerful. The water at the top looks so clear you could stand in it up to your waist. We could see the rocks below and the aqua colour as it went over the falls. How anyone could survive going over in a barrel, I don’t know. I took video of the surrounds because you never see that in photos or on the internet. I had imagined the falls being in the middle of no where but the city, hotels, casinos and amusement strip sit just beside it. We have been told that you can take a tour where you walk down behind the falls. That would be awesome. Another thing on my list.
We bought the kids some fun passes for the attractions and set them free for a few hours while Mum and I did some souvenir shopping. We searched places I hadn’t gone before and found some real bargains. My best find was a pair of wine glasses that I have long coveted of Sharon’s. I was waiting to inherit them but…… So I now have my own. Very happy. We found plenty of fridge magnets, postcards, toys and shot glasses to bring home.
The kids had a ball with their passes. At the end of the day they went to the fun parlour with their game tokens. They each had 5 tokens to play with which wasn’t much. Then a lady came and gave her cup of tickets to Olivia and the boys were given extra by others. It seems to be the done thing. They were very pleased with their prizes in return and were stoked that other people had given them tickets. Hopefully that’s a memory they take with them as they get older and pay it forward. Their other favourite was the wax museum where they took photos of each other sitting on the bench with Forrest Gump and playing guitar with Elvis Presley.
Mum and I enjoyed tasting the fudge samples at the candy store. Brought back memories of York and the fudge factory where we spent a lot of time. I found a raccoon hat I was quite fond of. Just a photo at this stage but might have to bring one home.
We had a visit from Braydon tonight. He is Malcolm and Debora’s eldest son (our exchangees) and lives in Toronto. It was great to have a conversation with someone who has done what we are doing and compare the differences. His experiences in Australia were very interesting. Debora has said that Canadians would find our postal system very different with posties on motorbikes. Here they have vans or they walk.
Garry has gone skating again tonight. He rang to tell me he had the rink to himself. Too late for me at 9.30pm. He is getting in practice before the first game tomorrow night.
Good night beautiful people Jxx

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