Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Uptown girl

So I've done the hotel shuffle and moved uptown to a posh hotel that work had booked for the two nights I'm here on 'their dime'. Yes it is swish, but it is also about another £60 a night which if I'm paying is a lot - and still doesn't include breakfast.
I've had a love day exploring Toronto island (did you know it had one?) then failing to locate Kensington Market - was it meant to be a building like the picture on the map showed, or was that street it? Finding nice places for brunch and dinner and having a walking tour of downtown Toronto pointing out where all the ghouls and goblins reside.
My feet are killing me. I've done more walking in the last two days than in the last two months. I have blisters on my soles..... but it's been worth it. Although it has been strange having a full two days and two nights on my own in a strange city, I'm glad I came early because visiting places and never seeing them is just crap, after Vienna I swore I'd never do that again (all I saw was the train station and the Hilton which was opposite the train station). Travelling is much better with someone to share it with, it feels more 'real' somehow, but on your own is definitely better than not at all.
Luckily for my trip next week to Poland I will be joined by my friend K for the weekend so we can explore together. This is turning into a rather expensive few weeks...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The thing I've never done....

Is travel on my own. I've just realised this as I was sat in a pub in Toronto, eating a pizza and testing a local lager. It is a strange phenomenon, truly being on your own, a little scary, but not too bad. And after all it is Toronto so a lot of it is strangely reminiscent of home. My first observations so far are:
- Oreo Cakesters are a great invention
- The UK really has gone to town investing in 'street scene' recently - shiny paving, signs, street lights etc. I'm sure there are bits of Toronto that I'll find fully shinified but in London nothing within the circle line isn't. That isn't the case here.
- People are friendly, and responsible. I was a bystander in a lost cat rescue situation on the way back from the pub.
- I can't work out how to turn on my bedside lamps or properly lock my bedroom door (don't worry, there is a latch). I'm hoping this diminishing brain capacity is due to lack of sleep and/or the beer I had.
So, I'm on my own until late Monday light, when the cavalry from work arrive. I'm glad I made the trip early, I hate travelling and seeing nothing of my destination. So tomorrow it's straight up the tower...

Monday, May 04, 2009

Wonderful b****ks

We've had a lovely weekend - 100% home town based - which is blissful. On Saturday we had a few friends and neighbours to (very loosely) celebrate Beltane, the celtic spring festival which takes place at roughly the beginning of May. As with many paganesque festivals it is basically about sex, this time about the fertility shown by late spring and early summer, and about ensuring a good harvest for the growing season. Beltane is one of the four fire festivals - the others being Lammas in August, Samhain in October and Candlemas in February. So burning stuff seemed a good idea and our new fire pit came into its own. I'm not really pagan, but I like the idea of the wheel of the year, marking the passage of the seasons and it was a good excuse to catch up with old friends.

Sunday was gardening day - trip to the garden centre, some edging panels to stop the garden falling into the garage, and a couple more plants. Rest of said day was spent installing the panels and sieving the soil in the bottom corner of the garden getting rid of three buckets of stones. Looks top now.

Today we visited the open day of our local 'adult education college'. We had never been to the college before. It sits high on a hill looking down over a very green valley. It has a working cooperative farm, a metal work studio and a sculpture studio. It isn't a normal educational establishment, apart from the 10% of courses which are about artistic activities, the rest are well and truly alternative. Want to find you chakras? Join a western mystical order? Learn how to breathe? This is the place to come. It's a beautiful house, in a beautiful setting and its primarily a venue for the promulgation of this wonderful b****ks. B****ks because I think it is, wonderful because it's a wonderful peaceful place that offers all sorts of support and experiences to take part in totally harmless and probably pretty relaxing activities. Normally houses like this are either hotels or in private hands with large gates and walls. This college is open to the public, trying to be environmentally friendly, a source of organic vegetables, and a place for all our local hippies (we do have a lot of them) to get to together and chant. How truly lovely.