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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

It's Been A While.....

The Departure Lounge 
Obviously, I've been spending far too much time enjoying myself and not nearly enough time considering how much people have been missing my updates and my extremely talented style of writing. I will do my best to go back to regularly posting but I'll use this one as a bit of a round up of the last 2 months of my time here.

  • I passed my official 6 month mark of working in the hostel by....TA DA!...moving in. Circumstances (personal and financial) led me to bite the bullet and give up my privacy and space to move into the staff room. I now share my living quarters with 140 other people, live a whole 40 seconds away from where I work and have a bar in my back garden. Could be worse ;)
  • Reunited after 6 years!
  • I had a visit from an old friend who I first met over 6 years ago in South Africa. It was the first time that me Mick and Viv had been together since we met in Cape Town so it was quite an emotional reunion. It was one of those things where you wonder if it would be awkward after so much time away from each other but lo and behold, it was like we'd seen each other weeks previous rather than years. Spent a lovely couple of days together, along with Mick's partner Conall. Far too short a time together. Looking forward to getting some more visitors before the end of the year!!
  • I finally managed to do something touristy (apart from Steamwhistle) and visit the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was nice and all but I'm really not a gallery type of person. It's just a load of paintings at the end of the day and most of them weren't even that nice. There was a bathroom sink stuck on the wall at one point, that was vaguely interesting. You were supposed to focus on the negative space around the sink. Random.
  • I took up (and subsequently quit) a second job at a Call Centre. Not being one of those really annoying losers who calls at dinner time asking if you would like to switch phone/internet provider or if you want to answer a 30 minute survey on your consumer behaviour habits. No, I participated in what is known as 'business to business guided voicemail messaging'. Sounds way more complicated than it is. I would turn up for 4 hours, dial a load of numbers, usually navigate some sort of automated receptionist to press play and leave a voicemail in the contact's mailbox. Boom. Some new type of direct marketing, we'll see how well it does. 
  • I stage managed a concert for the Irish Choral Society of Canada, it was my second ever paying gig as a stage manager - I wasn't even expecting that! It was a beautiful concert based on an Irish Immigrants tale of coming to Canada and the adjustments that need to be made, obstacles to overcome, all told through a variety of musical pieces performed by the choir interspersed with recitations by the 'immigrant'. It was lovely. They even let me do the light design which was pretty special.
Just to briefly mention some other bits and pieces that will require their own posts (hopefully not too far in the future) - going to see 'Bring It On' the Musical; Medieval Times; Wine Tasting Olympics at the Plummer Chalet, the start of Threesome Thursdays (not what you think!) the end of Karaoke Fridays. So much to tell, so little time.....

Moral of the Story - don't leave it too long between blog updates. Your head will be MELTED with all the stuff you're trying to remember. Then again, if I wasn't out doing all these things, there would be nothing for me to post about now would there?

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Hey, how you doin'?

Once again, I'm using Twitter for my inspiration for a blog post, purely because this one was definitely too funny for me to leave alone. Now, personally, I don't think I've ever been picked up with some cheesy chat up line. If I have been, then it obviously wasn't exciting enough for me to remember. There were some super creepy ones online the other day; if anyone tried these on me, I don't think they'd work but I'd definitely remember them!

  • I put the STD in 'stud', now all I need is U...
  • Are both your parents retarded? Because you're looking pretty special...
  • I've tried every other girl in here so it looks like it's your lucky day...
  • I heard you play hard to get. I play hard to get rid of...
  • Excuse me, do you give head to strangers? No? OK, let me introduce myself...
  • My personal favourite.... "Is your Dad in jail?"; "No, why?"; "Because if I was your Dad, I'd be in jail..."
I honestly have no idea where people come up with this stuff. Then today, I came across this trend in Dublin #HarryPotterchatuplines. Now anyone who knows me, knows what a Harry Potter fanatic I am so this obviously caught my eye. Please find a few the best ones below (NOTE: if you have never read or seen Harry Potter then will either just not get these or will not find them funny. You should stop reading now and just go to another one of my blog posts, they're pretty amusing ;)
  • One night with me and they'll be calling you Moaning Myrtle
  • Are you a Horcrux? Because I would definitely destroy you
  • You're definitely not a Muggle because I'm under your spell
  • Is that Nagini in your pants or are you just happy to see me?
  • Do you play Quidditch? Because you look like a Keeper
  • Are you sure you're not a Dementor? Because you're taking my breath away
  • Your smile is like 'Expelliarmus'; simple but disarming
  • I've lost my Invisibility Cloak but do you think I could still visit your restricted section tonight?
  • I don't need a key to your heart, I'll Alohomora that shit
  • I'd like to get my basilisk into your Chamber of Secrets
Moral of the Story - if you're going to use a chat up line, make it a memorable one! Mmmmm, not sure if I'll be able to read Harry Potter books the same way again after this....

Monday, 9 April 2012

There's no place like home....

Don't worry, this isn't going to be another whining post about how much I miss the homeland! As most of you will know, the house that I grew up in my whole life in Ballinteer, Dublin 16, has been up for sale for nearly 2 years now. It is an awful time to try to sell a property in Ireland but it was time for us to downsize. As it had been taking so long, when I left in October, I didn't really expect that the house would be sold before I got back in July.

Lo and behold, on Skype last week with the family and the news was broken to me that the house has been sold and they are due to move out by the 31st of May. They have not yet found a new place but sent me on some of the links to properties that they are looking at. I couldn't help but think 'they look SHITE compared to our house'. In all fairness, I knew it was coming but I don't mind admitting that I shed a tear or 2. I didn't take full advantage of my last few days in that house to say goodbye to it properly and now when I get back to Dublin, there'll be some other family living there. Eewww.

In the spirit of nostalgia, here are a few of the more memorable moments/things from my 26 years living in 90 Ludford Drive;

  • All those summer days in the paddling pool in the back garden (I know, summer days in Ireland, what??)
  • The day Mary left a stew for us, all my dad had to do was switch on the oven.....we went to the park, came back, he'd never switched it on. 3 hungry children and a man incapable of cooking, good times. 
  • The bathroom in the garage that EVERYONE used to use. 
  • The day I got locked in the utility room and kicked a hole in the bottom of the door to yell through to the kitchen to get Mary to let me in. 
  • When me and Jenny broke a coffee table in the sitting room by imitating dance routines from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. 
  • The day the extension was finished and all us kids finally got our own rooms. 
  • When we got the majority of the garage converted so that we would have a special room to play poker in and then managing to turn the whole downstairs pretty much into a casino every now and again.
  • The shed that used to be THE hang out spot during our teenage years.
  • Let's not forget the parties, planned and unplanned, from when we were kids playing musical chairs and giving out sweet bags to the guests; to the present, where you'll usually get breakfast cooked by Mary and an unbelievable hangover to take away with you. All the 21st birthdays, Christmas & Stephens Day sessions; not to mention the random nights that people would come back after a night out.
Strangely enough, this Skype conversation and all these memory lane trips occurred within a few days of me also making a move here in Canada. Having spent the last 4 months not even really seeing my housemate Greg, I decided it was time to up sticks and leave him, move somewhere a bit closer to work and with people that I am already good friends with. It's only been a week but I think it seems to be working out OK so far.....watch this space ;)

Moral of the Story - moving onwards and upwards, making big changes; it's what life is all about. Make sure to remember the good times and look forward to the times ahead.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The Dinosaur Prank

Henry enjoying the Falls
Most of you will know my dear friend, Henry Brontasaurus, who has been on many adventures with me. We met in London, went bowling in Bray, had many party nights out in Fitzgeralds and even rubbed shoulders with some famous people at the Radio Nova 1st Birthday Party. It was never a question as to whether or not he would accompany me to Canada. He loved New York; tried his first twinkie, went to Central Park, Times Square, etc. Been to Burlington and Niagara Falls so far in Canada and am looking forward to showing him more of the sights over the next year or two.

I had waited a little while before I introduced him to everyone at the hostel. After all, I was trying to make a good impression on these people and telling anyone about the toy dinosaur that you bring everywhere with you and consider part of your family is a little strange. Although, strangely enough, once most people have met me, they don't find the story that weird at all. But I digress.....

Me, Henry & the Irish Rebels
So, a couple of weeks ago, I brought him down. There was a band called the Irish Rebels playing at the hostel and I figured this would be a perfect time to introduce him. It was all going swimmingly. Everyone was getting in photos with him (including the band!) and we were having a great time. The next morning, I decided that perhaps it would be good for Henry to live at the hostel for a while, get a bit of independence and what not. I placed him on top of the speaker in reception so he could keep an eye on everything that was going on and off I went. I was going for dinner at Gillian's that night and knew that she would like to see him so dropped back to the hostel to pick him up. I couldn't see him on top of the speaker and panicked immediately. The others that were working were taking a look around for him but he was nowhere to be found. I rang Aine, who had been working when I left him there and she said she hadn't noticed whether or not he was still there when she left. I was distraught and do not mind admitting that there was a tear in my eye. Poor Tom, he had to listen to me rant and rave all the way to Gillian's, where I then spent the start of the evening bitching about where my dinosaur might be.

Poor Henry...
Suddenly, I got a friend request on Facebook from a character named Rambo Hunter. The accompanying message stated that 'We have Henry. If you ever want to see your dinosaur again, you better meet all of our demands'  There were also some very distressing photos; Henry in a frying pan, Henry with a butcher's knife to his throat, Henry hanging from his own bow from a light fixture and, my own personal favourite, Henry tied to a chair with a note asking for my help. The demands were as follows; a) $20, half in dollar coins, half in quarters; b) one can of coke; c) bar of Galaxy chocolate; d) bag of Tayto crisps. Now, these dastardly creatures had very cleverly set the deadline before payday as they obviously knew how I would struggle to scrape the necessary demands together. They did not count on the resourcefulness of one James Stafford, as well as my own ability to take things to a new extreme. Hence, the foundation of the Dinosaur Abduction Awareness Organisation and the set up of a silent auction in order to raise the funds necessary, including items such as dinner cooked by Gillian, an arm wrestle with Sally, a voodoo doll made of the hair shaved from Tom's head, among other items. I even managed to get the plight discussed on the radio in Dublin by my dear stalkee Marty Miller on Radio Nova.

Now I wish I could tell you that there was (as was planned by me) a SWAT team assault on the main suspects house in the middle of the night but in the end I didn't deem it appropriate. I was depending on the good nature of the kidnappers that they would not keep me in suspense for too long. What I had not predicted was the power of a nagging girlfriend. Without much evidence (apart from the pure gut instinct that I had), I accused the Scouse trouble maker, Joe Newsham. Despite his protestations, nothing could sway me from my conviction. 2 minutes after the deadline, I sent the following threatening message to Áine 'Look, is Joe gonna give Henry back to me or what?'. Her reply; 'Yes, the fool. He's gonna drop it into the hostel tomorrow before he heads off to New York'.

Moral of the Story - don't leave your dinosaur unprotected around a criminally minded Scouse. And don't worry, when the film rights are purchased, I will ensure to change the ending to something more exciting.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Life's Too Short To Sleep Alone

What greets you as you check in......
That is the slogan of Global Village Backpackers, stated very plainly on the information board at reception. What a motto to live and work by! It definitely describes the hostel perfectly ;). Now, you could go down the dirty route (as I know most of you will, you filthy minded creatures! As Ian pointed out 'if my mind didn't live in the gutter, it would be homeless') and assume that we are encouraging promiscuous activity but we certainly don't. Not that we are judgemental if there are some innocent hook ups but before you embark on any wild passionate love affairs in a hostel, make sure to read the following guide....

Anyway, I had been applying for lots of different types of positions, as per my previous blog post on Job Hunting in Canada, and when I applied for the Front Desk Agent position here, it was on a bit of a whim, with a lot of encouragement from Gillian. Once I had posted on Facebook where I was going to be working, I got a wonderful reaction from people telling me how perfect they thought the job would be for me. And how right they were. I work with a great bunch of people and get to meet new people all the time, which can be both a good and a bad thing! There is also a bar on site, the wonderful Departure Lounge, which will undoubtedly finish the job that Fitzgeralds started in terms of my liver failure.

I would take you through a typical day but there is no such thing as a typical day at GVB. I think the best way to express what it's like working in the hostel is to describe a few of the more entertaining guests (by entertaining, I mean mental obviously), my colleagues and a few of the stand-out moments that have occurred in my 2 and a half months here so far......
  • In terms of the guests.....generally, they're pretty great. A few of the more memorable ones include the woman who carried a pile of washing out the door and across the street because she saw a limo pull up at the traffic lights and assumed 'there must be someone interesting in there'; knocked on the car window to talk to the driver and got annoyed when it pulled away. There was the man who passed out in the toilets and then tried to accuse us of stealing money from him.....while he was locked in the toilet cubicle. The staff are talented but we're not ninjas. The man who asked one too many times about why the internet connection wasn't working......and was killed (not really, he was moved to another, more internet receptive room). Let's not forget creepy condo guy.He never actually stayed here, he just frequents the bar and tried to lure people to his condo for 'parties'.
  • Where do I start with my colleagues? Great bunch of people altogether. We've got 5 Irish, 3 Germans, 3 Australians, 1 English and 1 Cornish. There's a couple of Canadians as well, so we're not prejudiced! Quite a mix but we manage to get along pretty well. Karaoke on Friday nights can be quite a spectacle when we all get involved. Many of these colleagues feature in my Top 5 GVB moments so far.....
  1. The night we shaved Tom's head - so Tom decided that he wanted to try having his head shaved as he'd never done it before and always wondered what it would look like. I was on shift til 11 and had asked that they wait until I was finished before they did it so that I could watch. They went one better and got Shaun to agree to let them do it in the bar. We all took turns taking snips at his floppy English locks until Andy went hell for leather with the razor.....
  2. Karaoke Friday Nights - it's really hard to pick just one stand out moment from karaoke, there have been so many epic performances. Tom and Andy with their Jason Beaver tributes; Gillian, Kate and Nic doing Journey proud,; Craig doing Mustang Sally after bitching that he wouldn't sing EVER. I think the winner has to be both renditions of Fairytale of New York that we kicked out over Christmas.
  3. New Year's Eve - not generally the biggest fan of New Years as traditionally, it's a massive let down. I was even more apprehensive being away from home but that didn't matter. Everyone who was there was in the same boat pretty much, the music was great and I drank way too much. And there was no Auld Lang Syne. Perfect.
  4. The night I threw the pint over Alan - this was possibly the great turning point in my time here. We'd been at our staff party and everyone was very merry with a lot of fizzy drinks having been taken on board. After the session in the party room at Sally & Shaun's condo, we all headed over to the hostel bar for more drinks (as if we needed them). A few of us were out on the patio and Alan decided it might be funny if he leaned over and poured some beer down my top. Through my shock, I reacted on instinct......and launched my entire pint over his head. Dear reader, I cannot express how tense those few seconds immediately following that were. As soon as the beer was leaving the glass, my first thought was 'bollox. I've taken this way too far'. There was pure silence from everyone else (probably some tumbleweed blowing) as we all waited for his reaction. He raised his head, beer dripping from his glasses, looked at me....and started laughing. The he high-fived me, gave me a hug and said that it was well deserved. Boom.
  5. The kidnapping saga - this incident is very recent and will require an entire blog post all of it's own but let's just say that my dearest friend Henry Brontasaurus was kidnapped by a dreadful Scouse Gangster and it was touch and go as to whether I would ever see him again. An elaborate Facebook creation, a ransom note and a Dinosaur Abduction Awareness Organisation hosting a Silent Auction later and it has all been resolved.
Me outside GVB (this was actually before I started working)
Moral of the Story - if you want to take a year out and are lucky enough not to be saddled with a mortgage/kids/other grown up responsibilities; work in a hostel. You may not make a lot of money, but you'll have some craic. And sure, isn't that what it's all about at the end of the day? ;) 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Irish Facts Without Wikipedia

I'm not generally a major Twitter fan. There does be some interesting stuff but for the most part, I find it tedious and there is just too much crap! Occasionally though, you find some gems, like today. Rick O'Shea of 2fm started a trend by asking people to post #IrishFactsWithoutWikipedia, basically overly false 'facts' about Ireland. I spotted the trend and clicked through....and promptly nearly fell off my chair laughing. Someone had tweeted Rick suggesting that somebody should post it in a blog as they were too funny not to be published. Things are quiet in work right now so I decided to take it upon myself to transfer some of the ones I found most amusing here. Some of them are proper Irish universal truths, the others are pure hilarious. Enjoy!!

  • If your Granny doesn't light a candle for you before an exam, you're going to fail
  • You must say 'goodbye' at least 3 times at the end of a phone conversation or the phone won't actually hang up
  • Bono can shoot beams made of Tayto crisps out of his wicked uniglasses
  • In Ireland, Father Ted is seen as a hard hitting documentary
  • If you're sick, you don't need a doctor. 7up and toast will do the job
  • Abrakebabra have 2 Michelin stars but don't like to advertise it
  • Jackie Healy Rae is only man to hold the Irish, European and World Combover of the Year titles
  • Not turning off the immersion leads to a fate worse than death (classic)
  • Cork is actually only about half the size of the Phoenix Park but we let them draw it bigger on the map just to keep them quiet
  • If you say 'Gay Byrne' 3 times fast, Uncle Gaybo will appear and give lollipops to everyone in the audience
  • It's an old Irish custom to declare your intent to marry a girl by draping a large raw steak over her face
  • Iceland used to be a county of Ireland before it broke off in 1941. Nobody noticed because of the war
  • We are all fluent Irish speakers but we don't want to get stuck talking to Daithi O Se in a bar
  • Bono can hear a hungry child's tear hit the dust from 100 miles away
  • All toastie specials served in Irish pubs contain molten lava
  • There's no money resting in ANY Irish bank account anymore
  • 'An bhfuil cead agam dul go dti an leithreas?' is the most used phrase in the Irish language
  • Vincent Browne had a successful acting career as Worzel Gummidge
  • In Ireland, it's widely accepted by the Vatican to break Lent on Paddys Day for crisps and chocolate
  • The tallest mountain in the world is actually Muckish in Donegal. It's just lying down, so you can't tell
  • It is compulsary to say 'aahh' after the first sup of tae
  • Members of the Irish Parliament use croissants as emergency sideburns
  • If you die of alcohol poisoning, you're considered a lightweight
  • Contrary to popular belief, Jim Corr wrote the Irish National Anthem
  • Our blood is 90% tea
  • We're obliged to have a pint or 2 at the airport before getting on a plane - even if it's 7 in the morning
  • Red lemonade is the reason we are all mental because the chemicals used to make it are banned in every other country
  • By law, you are only allowed to worship Premier League Foottballers until they put on an England shirt
  • Honda Civics, Subarus and Mitsubishis are not as preferable modes of transport as horses
  • Dublin Zoo is running a captive breeding programme of leprechauns to replace the current government
  • If the perpetual lamp under the Sacred Heart picture goes out, all members of the household die that instant
  • Shortcuts always involve fields
  • St Patrick actually smuggled snakes over by accident, though diligently rectified the problem himself
  • Anne Doyle is completely octopus from the waist down
  • Starving is a word used by the people of Ireland when they haven't eaten for a minimum of 2 hours
  • To be considered truly Irish, the wooden spoon must have been a fundamental element of your childhood
  • The Vikings originally introduced the battered sausage to Ireland in 956 AD as building material for huts
  • The mass decline in population in the mid 1800's was actually caused by a zombie apocalypse
Moral of the Story - Irish people are great craic. Our sense of humour will get us through anything.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Finding the new Fitzgeralds

I've drank in many bars in my time. In fact, some people would even say that I may have been in a few too many bars and consumed more than my fair share of fizzy drinks. You would be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't be of the opinion that I spent far too much time in one bar. No one ever said that to Cliff or Norm and they spent a lot more time in their bar than I did in mine.....

Fitzgeralds was the place that I could walk into anytime and be guaranteed to know at least one other person at the bar, as well as the staff. Comfortable. Friendly. Inviting. I could have a pint on my own and read the paper or end up having the craic with some random people and end up heading to the Czech Inn for some ridiculous dancing. And let's not forget the infamous Friday night sessions. Rare was the Friday that I didn't scarper from my office next door with a fierce thirst on me and eager to while away the evening with a few 'civilised drinks'. Until, lo and behold, a mere few hours later I'm weaving drunkenly on my chair with whoever I managed to drag from the office with me waiting for Totally Wired to start. Inevitably, despite many protestations that we would leave after the next pint, all of a sudden, we'd realise that one staff member was mopping around us while the other was vaguely encouraging us to drink up and go but not really forcing us out the door. Good times.

Obviously, when I got to Canada, one of the first things that I was keen to accomplish (apart from the very obvious finding employment and accommodation) was finding my replacement bar. I am quite easily pleased and like to think that my expectations are not too high but Fitzgeralds had set the bar very high. Below are some of the bars I tested out and my verdict on each of them....

  • Elephant & Castle - no, they did not have chicken wings (well they probably did but I was unwilling to order them and shatter the illusion). I did try the curry chips and they were pretty good. The beer was an alright price (so long as you stuck to the local brews) and the staff were friendly enough. They went to great lengths to try to find the Irish Euro 2012 Qualifier match for me on TV. I haven't been back since but would still give it 3/5.
  • Fynn's of Temple Bar - being a huge fan of the Temple Bar Bar, I was hoping for something vaguely similar but I really didn't find it here. The staff seemed friendly enough but I didn't feel enough of a pull to visit there more than 3 times in the last 10 weeks. Their food is pretty good though. 3/5
  • Pogue Mahone - now this one, I had to go into just to see what the bleeding story was. After having a chat with the bartender, he confirmed that the name was an attempt at wittiness. Good attempt There was no atmosphere there, the staff were surly enough to a point (although I did manage to get one of them to have a bit of banter with me eventually). Not likely to go back 1/5
  • McVeighs - everyone said to me, if you want a taste of home, get yourself to Mc Veighs. I decided to pop along on a Sunday afternoon to have a nose. It was dark, there weren't many people there, there were a few others on their own and the bartender was having the banter with a couple of lads at the end of the bar. Somehow though, it just didn't work for me. After a while, there was a group at the end of the bar, all Irish, gossiping about the night before in some other pub when this person had done this that and the other, and he'd kissed her and she'd punched him. And I realised that it seemed like just another small town in Ireland. And I didn't actually want to be a part of that. 3/5
  • The Bier Markt - here's one I wasn't expecting to like, it seemed a little bit pretentious at first glance but they had a lot of international beers on tap so we figured we'd give it a go. Not only do they have a lot of different beers but they will allow you to have little tasters of different ones to help you make up your mind about which one you want. The first night we were there, I tried a few different ones, as did my friend Viv. The following week when we went in, the same bartenders were there and they remembered everything we had tasted and which ones we liked and didn't like. Either we were very memorable or they were very good at their jobs! Been there a few times now and the staff are always lovely, the music sounds like a playlist from my own MP3 Player and their Poutine is delish. 4/5
  • The Foggy Dew - again, based on the name, I was hoping for something even vaguely similar to the dear old Dublin Foggy Dew. My first day there, I made friends with some locals and the bartender. This looked promising. Been back a few times since and even when I brought in the guys visiting from Ireland, the lovely Jeremy didn't even charge them for their tea and soft drinks which I thought was pretty decent. My only criticism is that their chips are not crispy enough. Otherwise though 5/5
  • And then we come to the closest thing I've found so far. The dear old Departure Lounge at Global Village. I know the staff, I'm getting to know the regulars, I get good deals on drinks. Couple of slight bonuses over Fitzgeralds - crazy drinks specials every night and karaoke on Fridays. However, Fitzgeralds still wins over slightly....although, ask me again in about 8 months time. 5/5
Moral of the Story - I will continue my search for a substitute bar and will ensure to keep you all updated. Don't worry too much Lennie; you're a hard one to replace. 

Friday, 13 January 2012

Likes and Dislikes in Canada so far....

I would like to preface this one by saying that I understand that these points may not necessarily apply to the whole of Canada but you can take that up with someone who gives a rats ass.....

  • Like.... the public transport system. The TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), as far as I'm concerned provides an excellent service, particularly when coming from the likes of Dublin Bus and Irish Rail. The subway and streetcar schedules are super frequent, I'm rarely waiting too long for one (except in the middle of the night, when you could be waiting half an hour.....when it's -15 out. Not that pleasant). My favourite thing has to be the drivers though. Maybe it's a public transport driver trait across the world to have an amazingly sarcastic sense of humour. Case in point; on a streetcar one evening and a woman got on talking on her mobile phone. Well, she was shouting and she had the other person on speaker phone so it was a very annoying conversation to have to listen to. Next thing, the driver gets on the intercom 'Excuse me lady, no one wants to hear your conversation. Please either hang up the phone, or get off the streetcar. Thank you'. I nearly wet myself. No one else seemed to think it was that funny though......
  • Dislike..... milk. At home we've got full fat, low fat, slimline, whatever. They've the same stuff over here but they also have 'percentages'. As in 2%, 1%. That's not milk, it's a percentage, as Tracy would say. Also, it comes in bags as well as in cartons. Plastic bags of milk feel so weird. I can't even describe it if you've never felt one. Everyone seems to have these special plastic jugs that they use for them. You cut a wee corner out of the bag and plop it in there. Why you don't just empty the milk from the bag into the jug, I do not know. Strange.....
  • Like.....the Plummers. I've had a few issues with the odd crazy Canadian since I got here, and haven't met a huge amount that I would be able to admit that I was overly fond of. Apart from the Plummer family. I don't think that there could be a more welcoming or easy going family within the entire North American continent. They should be on the Canadian Tourism Boards advertisements for reasons to come to Canada.
  • Dislike.....HST. Harmonized Sales Tax in other words. Nothing, NOTHING that you buy is actually the price that is listed. You get to the counter and realise that the exact change that you've scoured your wallet for is no use to you as you forgot to consider the taxes. According to Wikipedia (the bible of completely accurate information), when they were introducing the HST in Ontario in 2010 was opposed by 74% of the population. Nice to know it matters what the public think!
  • Like.....my job. Not many people get to say that these days but I thoroughly enjoy my job. Not that I don't have my off days and I have met some crazy people (not the good kind either) but working at Global Village has been an extremely welcome break from the office work of the last 3 years. I've met some great people, there's a bar on the premises and a smoking patio. And, although I complain about it sometimes, I've learned that I really enjoy folding sheets!
  • Dislike.....lack of chicken fillet or breakfast roll availability. Snack food is very different here. It's all pizza slices and pizza slices and more pizza slices. They don't have the same kind of deli vibe that I'm used to where you can get an ol ham and cheese sandwich made up (or the legendary chicken fillet roll). Some of the convenience stores do have counters with samosas, meat pies, imitation cornish pasties, sausage rolls, etc. Even they're not the same. The only sausage rolls I've been able to find are beef ones, not even pork ones!
  • Like.....poutine. Yes, I do love poutine. Let me explain it for anyone who may not know about it. It's basically gravy chips with cheese curds but the Canadians consider it very precious and unique to them. Before I tasted it for the first time, I was advised that I had to be very careful where I tried it to ensure that I was tasting high quality poutine. Apparently, the cheese curds have to be really squeaky, the gravy should be chicken or turkey (with a hint of pepper), and the chips should be thin cut and crispy on the outside. I tasted it in the BierMarkt and was very happy with it!
  • Dislike.....LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario). The LCBO and the Beer Store are the only places that you can buy alcohol in the province of Ontario apart from licensed premises like bars and restaurants (where you can't get take out). If the opening hours don't suit you or you don't have one too near to your house, it can be very awkward. Which I found out to my detriment last Sunday when I discovered that most of them close by 6pm at the latest. Shocking.
  • Like..... Steamwhistle Brewery. I've mentioned them in a couple of blogs before but I cannot get enough of these guys. Not only is the Brewery a great attraction and good fun, the beer is really tasty and has been made in the most efficient and green ways. As their motto goes 'Do One Thing Really, Really Well'. Too true, too true. 
  • Dislike.... there's no Fitzgeralds. It's been really hard to find a bar here that I can call home. I have searched high and low (which is really tough here considering how expensive it is to drink over here). Lennie and co have pretty much ruined me for any other bar. The closest thing I am likely to find is the bar at Global Village; I know the staff, I know the regulars, I get good prices on the beer. If I could get Totally Wired over to play there, it would actually be perfect.....
Moral of the Story - Moving to a new place is exciting....but sometimes it's just fun to make a pros and cons list!
 

    Wednesday, 11 January 2012

    Christmas in Canada

    On Christmas Eve, I posted on Facebook about not feeling very Christmassy. Because I just didn't. There were decorations up, people walking around with Santa hats, 12 Pubs of Christmas crawls going on. It was the little differences. There were Christmas songs being played, but I didn't hear Slade, Wizzard or Fairytale of New York ONCE! Except for when we did it at karaoke in the hostel after many many fizzy drinks. I miss the lights on Grafton Street. I miss the stalls on Henry Street, with the shrill cries of "wrappin paper, 5 sheets for a euro". I missed the 12 Pubs of Christmas with the girls. I missed doing Kris Kindle with the family and then all of us just swapping around anyway to get who we had a gift idea for.

    Working Christmas Eve also wasn't the greatest way to get myself in the spirit. I tried playing some Christmas tunes. No. I wrote my cards out for the Plummer Family. No. I Facebook creeped my friends to see what they were up to. That just made me sad. Then I found my saviour on the RTE iPlayer. "The Toy Show Unwrapped" gave the history of the toy show and showed lots of old clips. I could not help but get into the spirit. As much as people sneer, I do love the Toy Show. Dara O'Briain's explanation that the Toy Show is the reason for the recession because it showed us all the things that we could have but would never be able to afford!

    Thankfully, the Plummer family had agreed to take me in over Christmas. I only had Christmas Day off so it was a bit of a flying visit but it was nice to be with a family, even if they weren't my own. My family had sent some packages over for me too, so I was looking forward to opening them on Christmas morning while Skyping with them. The Plummers also made sure that I had several presents of my own to open with them, including this very fetching stocking filled with an array of handy gifts!

    There is very little that differs with Canadian Christmas to an Irish one. Time spent with family eating too much food, watching shite on TV and basically just hanging around, being together. St Stephens Day - now that was a different matter. I know at home a lot of pubs close early and what not but the city was like a ghost town! Thankfully, the hostel bar was open so I went there and spent some time with my new friends, lamenting my homesickness and getting over it by drinking $10 pitchers of Moosehead. That is definitely a good way to forget that one is homesick. That's how the rest of my festive period was spent actually, working and drinking with a whole bunch of other people who were also far away from home. In my opinion, New Years is always a let down but this year, I actually had more fun that I remember having most New Years. Champagne at midnight, great music, a bunch of strangers and new friends. It was pretty great.

    Moral of the Story - Christmas is about surrounding yourself with your family the people you love. When that's not possible, the next best thing is to get yourself a sweet Canadian family around and a hostel full of drunk backpackers. Just make sure you show up for work on time New Years Day......