18 Jan

Folks, I don’t want to alarm you but there’s a crisis brewing.

There’s been an amber warning for snow in England since yesterday afternoon and London has been hit with what people are calling “Snowmaggedon”.

I don’t know if you’ve heard the reports yet:

More than 3,000 schools have been closed in England and Wales as a band of heavy snow affects most of the UK – BBC News

Some stretches of motorways were closed and many A-roads impassable. There were dozens of accidents, many involving lorries that had jack-knifed in the icy conditions. Hundreds of motorists attempted to get out only to get stuck and abandon their vehicles, causing further chaos. The Guardian

 People are awash with chatter of being stuck in offices, stranded on transportation or unable to drive.

I have recorded evidence of Snowmaggedon  below but I must warn you these images are highly disturbing and urge you not to panic at the sights of these streets of London covered by so much snow.

With that warning, I say to you, go forth – albeit cautiously – and look at the pictures.

And remember, the City of London may need you, and you may have to step up in this time of crisis.





Chicken pox. 72 hours later. Correction: 84

10 Sep

A lot of you might wonder what it’s like to have chicken pox. Actually, that’s probably not true. Because you all had it. When you were children. Like normal people. I, however, have a three-year-old’s disease – at 23.

My greatest bone to pick with the pox? I feel personally insulted at its affront to my dignity. Not only am I reduced to a 23-year-old woman who can’t be bothered to comb her hair or dress herself in anything vaguely appealing but I am covered head to toe in spots. Not nice cute little speckles. Oh no. Large scabby red marks cover my face and stomach and neck and arms…and well on and on the list goes.

It’s so bad that my friend is too scared to open a picture of my face when I send it and that my housemates say I look like death. And when I answer the door for the plumber I can see the fear in his eyes, the struggle not to stare at my nose that has changed shape from the spot placement. (Or maybe that’s just my paranoia).

I also hate the fact that when you tell everyone you have chicken pox they immediately picture you pox-ridden. Am I wrong here? And it’s not a pretty look, let’s face it.

Besides the fact I have a child’s disease, it’s just plain rubbish that as an adult I still don’t have the self-control not to scratch. I mean you might think that as an adult you’ve carefully honed your ability to postpone gratification specially when you know it will later do you harm, but this illness says, no, I am going to prove to you how child-like you are.

Sigh. Can’t wait for pox-phase to be over.

(Note: no picture was added to this post in keeping with not wanting to cause readers’ eyes undue stress)

E-mails sweeter with kisses?

30 Jan

A British friend recently remarked that my text messages are so stark and blunt because I never end them with a kiss (or “x” in the text messaging world).

She’s absolutely right. Though I don’t have any objections to people signing off with a “x” when they speak to me, the custom of signing off texts, e-mails, and to some extent Facebook messages to your friends and family in this way is still something that I can’t wrap my head around.

Signing off with a kiss in Canada would probably only be used in e-mails to your Grandmother, a best friend (only between girls), or a text message to a potential new partner (aka. Dear Michael, I had a great time on our date last night x). Even a potential partner situation might be overstepping the mark.

After my friend made the comment, I googled signing off with a x and discovered loads of fellow foreigners flabbergasted by the British use of “x”.

“I am just curious about something I have noticed British friends doing,” said one girl on a Lonely Planet travel forum. “In e-mails they often sign off with x’s and here in the US, this type of thing is reserved for just partners and parents. It’s a pretty personal and affectionate thing to do that we don’t do for friends usually”.

Advice came to the girl in the form of people telling her to basically put an “x” into every message to everyone, no matter whom she is e-mailing.

Another Brit told her she uses them for everything or she actually feels rude. But then when she was in Indonesia and her friends there were asking her why she always uses them.

I’m curious how such a personal expression of warmth became so accepted and encouraged by all, but I couldn’t find much on the history.

If you can enlighten me, please do because otherwise I’m sticking with signing off with my name.



It’s snowing at home!

27 Dec


My big, fat, lovely family

24 Dec

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family” – Anthony Brandt

Head of the clan/ maternal Grandfather

Ah my family. They’re loud. They’re opinionated. They’re lovely. It feels even better to be home than I’d imagined—particularly with the dusting of snow coating my porch.

Families are like that, I suppose. You forget how important they are to you when you’re away from them for a long time.

Sometimes I remembered when I’d be invited to someone else’s family’s house for dinner. I’d laugh with them, and talk to them, but in my chest would be a twinge of sadness because I wasn’t in my home. But then I took the tube home from the dinner or lunch, and moved on to something else, got busy with life and work.

But now I’ve been thrust back into the world of heated political debates, cooking frenzies, and lots of laughter, and I think, oh right, this is what I’ve been missing.

I’m not saying I plan on moving back here anytime soon, but I do have to admit that, fuck, I’ve missed these people.

Toronto, okay, I love you

23 Dec

Today I leave Toronto. I don’t want to. It took me precisely three days to renew my love of Toronto, so it seems unfair that now I have to leave. I can’t point to an actual moment where I thought: “Oh you….right….I DO love you”.

Toronto Eaton Centre

At first, I hardly felt a connection. I walked past my old apartment. Nothing. I went to the Eaton Centre. Nothing. My old supermarket. Nothing – mind you, it was Metro, so perhaps that one is understandable.

I think I was trying to force myself into feeling something, and it was only when I threw my hands up in the air and let myself feel whatever I was feeling that I started to enjoy myself.

And then a funny thing happened slowly; I walked up and down Queen west amongst the hipsters, sipped coffee at Moonbean in Kensington, ate sushi on Yonge street and that feeling I was having trouble identifying in the early days slowly revealed itself to be contentment.

I was content to sit in cafes with my fellow RRJ-ers, or grab Greek food on the Danforth with my best friend from high school. I was content to hear a Canadian accent everywhere I went. I was definitely content to join in the sport of making fun of the uuber-conservative (and equally idiotic) mayor Rob Ford.

Spending time in Toronto has been like meeting with an old friend. You never have enough time. But you also feel like she will always be there for you, whenever you need her.

Still, I wish I had more time here. I wish I had more time to wander my old favourite neighbourhoods. I wish I had more time to walk around with coffee in my hand (Londoners don’t do this!). I wish I had more time to spend with friends and familyI shared mere hours with – friends and family who are even nearer and dearer to me now I’ve spent so much time apart from them.

Just like Candy

20 Dec

Okay, here goes. For the last three(ish) days I’ve been trying to figure out how I feel about being home, but the truth is I just don’t feel anything yet.

It’s kind of like that feeling when someone hands you a candy you used to love as a child. Your eyes light up as you glimpse the familiar wrapping. It looks just as you remember. But then as you pop it into your mouth, you realise your tastes have changed, maybe matured a little, and as you take those first few licks you’re not sure what to think. After sufficient time in your mouth, you will of course render a verdict, but in the meantime you’re reserving judgement. Well, that’s kind of how I feel. After one year and four months away from this place, and living in England and travelling all through Europe, I have a bit of a different perspective on the country I love. So, for now, I’m holding out judgement.

On another note – no matter what anyone says about Canada – it is much warmer EVERYWHERE than it is in England!