To Brussels and back

The semi-stress free week continues. Wed and Thursday were spent in Brussels at a corporate team building/bonding thing. It was typical work enforced fun: power point presentations, conference room food, drinks with coworkers and more precious power point.

The company is quite international, and lately i’ve started to really enjoy being the only Canadian. I’ve been with this Aussie company for 5 months now and being surrounded by Australians, Kiwis, English, Belgians, French, … German … it gives me plenty of opportunities to reflect on what it means to be Canadian.
The politics, health care, accents from tv? Mike Myers has said: “Canada is the essence of not being. Not English, not American, it is the mathematic of not being. And a subtle flavour – we’re more like celery as a flavour.”

Flavour or not, things the Aussies and Kiwis don’t have a clue about: double-doubles, what it means to jersey someone, how warming poutine is on an icy cold -25C winter day, the ache of shoveling snow. By the way, expressions that only work in Canada: “Have you seen so and so today? No, we’ve been playing Polkaroo” (lots of strange looks when i said that the other week.

As the lone Canadian in the company of several hundred my pride and love for Canada has grown. Even if I can’t pin point “canadian”. But I have caught myself picking up Australian phrases. Today, I actually used “reckon” and “mates” in the same sentence. The antidote? playing You Tube Tragically Hip videos on full volume. Is the Canadian back in me? Not fully, completely, but almost.

Perishingly Cold

Was watching the BBC show: How Do They Do It? today. I almost fell off the couch listening to the intro of todays episode:

Imagine you’ve had enough. You decide to get away from civilization.
You go to Canada

(I’m not kidding)

There you are in your log cabin … but you still need supplies from the outside world. Tartan jackets, Davie Crockett hats – that sort of thing. But the problem is most trade comes by ship across sea and rivers. But because Canada is so perishingly cold (note, this is word for word) … most of the seas and rivers are frozen solid for 3 months of the year. The question is how do you secure a regular supply of fur lined boots and lumber axes when the rivers are frozen stiff. How do they do it?

It’s the middle of winter and the balls have frozen off every brass monkey within a hundred kilometers. In a nutshell, it’s absolutely freezing! This wind swept plane is actually the mighty St. Lawrence river one of the most vital trade routes in north america. Except in winter …

Crickey! I do miss my lumber jack axe.

From one storm to another

It didn’t really matter which side of the Atlantic you were on, either way you had a storm.
In Canada it was yet another dump of snow:


(photo from Globe and Mail)

Meanwhile in UK it was gale force winds, flooding and one bad day for my poor umbrella.


(photo from BBC, obviously I didn’t take this in London…)

Anyway, either way you had one bad storm to contend with.

Unless you’re my brother and sister in law, well then you had the joy of both!! A 24 hour delay in Montreal getting off the ground, and another delay in London as you try to make your way to Italy. I still can’t believe you even landed this morning!  The wind was insane.  I woke at 3am to the sound of my recycling bin doing laps down my block.  Hope you enjoyed all that time in the airports, see you next week!

Canada needs a new prime minister

I’ve suspected it for a while, but this cements it: Stephen Harper needs to go.

So what happened this past week when these Canadian scientists came to Parliament Hill for a reception in their honour with their Nobel prize tucked up underneath their arms? The Prime Minister, the guy who’s job it is to represent us at these things refused to attend. The Canadian cabinet refused to attend. And why? Because these scientists, who – I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this or not – won the Nobel Peace Prize, had the gall to do it by formulating a plan to fight climate change. And my guess is it doesn’t call for an increase in oil sands production. So as a result, not a single cabinet minister would cross the hall and shake their hands.


It’s Been One Fantastic Year

One year this week, September 10th, 2006, I entered the United Kingdom. And what a year! Sylvia and I got married on the 23rd (our first year anniversary, “paper,” is fast approaching) and after spending almost 6 months living apart we started living London. We went through the arduous process of importing our two cats into the United Kingdom and we both started new jobs.

Travel this year for Sylvia and I has included Fiji, The Cook Islands, Hong Kong, Thailand, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Germany, and all around England. We’ve already got a few more trips lined up to Germany, Italy, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Malaysia. My business travels have taken me to Taiwan, Japan, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, The USA, and Canada with a total of over 63 flights this year – and that’s just from flights where I kept the boarding passes! I managed to avoid going to Korea somehow, despite having LG and Samsung as customers; we’ll see how long that lasts.

This year we’ve viewed more flats in London than I’d care to remember: dealing with estate agents is a truly painful experience. We have had a few friends make the long journey over to visit and we have as many again coming in the next few weeks!

We’ve had lot of interesting experiences that have made it to the blog including attending horse races, dealing with the tube, travelling by train, hunting for the perfect flat, buying Manolos, navigating the floodwaters, watching local sports, exploring English cuisine, mobile blogging, tasting sweeteners, bitching about the weather, hanging out with the cats, stumbling through the language barrier, getting well deserved status, attending tradeshows, exploring the Sunday pub culture, tasting cheese, the trials and tribulations of international professionals, ranting about the commute, ranting about budget airlines, and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of travel.

So what do we think about living here? We bloody love it. Let’s hope 2008 is even better.


Ok, this post is not about London… but it’s not everyday that someone I know opens the TSX. And this morning there you are Dave!
I’m so jealous (…slash happy for you…)


Also… how often does a hangover specialist leave MTV Canada’s studios and then a few weeks later win a scrabble championship?!

Back in the Uk

And we’re back.
It was a short and sad trip back to Canada for Jason’s grandfather’s funeral.
But we’re back in the Uk and we seem to have brought some snow with us. Although the BBC calls it snow, it’s not real snow. It’s more like thick rain.
I have some interviews lined up for the next few days, so with any luck i’ll have my job situation figured out soon.

London’s Calling … for a pub quiz!

So last night was the big goodbye – the pub quiz. Congrats to team Cornflake for taking the title after a solid 10 out of 10 result in the last round “Celebrity Nicknames … As Seen on Perez”. You may not have known which Star Trek Actor Directed “Three Men and a Baby” or known Johnny Quest, or even which sex of reindeer grow antlers, but when it came down to crunch time you knew exactly who Princess Frostylocks was!

It was a sad night, quite teary, and yet I’m an idiot. I forgot to bring my camera!
Goodbye – I’ll miss you all!

Goodbye Canada Part 2: Cross Country City Skiing

I do love Toronto for it’s cross country skiing. The city parks are incredible for easy access to great snow, and many of the bigger ones like High Park make you feel like you’ve left the city. My personal favourite: Sunnybrook Park. The snow today wasn’t as great as I expected. Seems that even though we were assaulted with snow this past week, the park was a bit bare in places. But my dad and I made do. I am going to miss skiing in the city.