Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Expat Australia Day

Ahhh Australia Day. The one day of the year we can behave obnoxiously patriotic in another country! That and ANZAC Day, AFL Grand Final, NFL Grand Final, State of Origin, any sports event when Australia plays.....

The good thing about celebrating Australia Day (or 'Straya Day as it now seems to be called) in Canada, is that it's almost a full day behind so we got to celebrate it twice! Friday (technically the 26th in Australia) we had an Australian themed morning tea and Saturday we went to Vancouver for a party at an Australian bar.

So it turns out 'morning tea' and 'smoko' do not translate into Canadian. It took a while to explain it's just a mid-morning break, and we wouldn't actually be drinking any tea. Instead we had Milo, Cherry Ripes, Jaffas, BBQ Shapes, Vegemite and cheese crackers and Killer Pythons. Not really traditional Australia Day fare, but stuff that can't be bought in Canada and I didn't have time to bake the night before. I really need to make lamingtons at some stage, I've made more pavlovas here than ever before I think!
Before everyone was allowed to eat, we made them tell us why they loved Australia. In true lovely Canadian fashion, they told us no hesitation. Mostly they said the people, which I think is possibly the worst part of Australia. Ha! Friday night I flew to Vancouver, trying to listen to as much of the Hottest 100 as I could where we met up with some old colleagues from Peak.
Questionable tattoo locations
Saturday in Vancouver, we put on our Australian best and headed to Moose's Down Under for some shenanigans. Flags, tattoos, attempted lip tattoos, XXXX, Bundy Rum, New, snake bites, vodka lemon lime and bitters, Australian tunes, singing and meat trays made up our night.

Double dipped and Captain Australia
A meat tray raffle raising money for Red Cross Tasmania finally saw O'Hara and I get our meat tray mojo back. Though it took us being somewhere we couldn't get it home to finally win one! I think meat tray raffles need to become a thing in Canada. They are awesome.
I loved that it doesn't matter if Australians are at home or abroad, they still dance in a circle and sing. Standard! I also didn't realise how much I missed standard Australian pub tunes. There are some classics.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

What's better than a Winter Wine Festival?

Nothing, it's a fact. Winter Wine Festivals are a win.

Last weekend we went with a bunch of friends to the Sun Peaks Winter Festival of Wine. This was a 2 week course of events held at a Sun Peaks, a local mountain resort. We went to the Progressive Wine Tasting event, which basically consisted of us wandering through the village tasting a bunch of local wines.
Cool wine glass pens and party of the crew
We had the most incredible weather all weekend, which meant wandering the village drinking wine was possibly one of the best nights we've had. Some highlights from the weekend, names omitted to protect the guilty!

  • Quick snack of roast chicken sandwiches before wine tasting, and pounding cheese without crackers at the event
  • Four snowboards were dropped off to get waxed Friday night, only one made it to the mountain on Saturday
  • Someone got their nipples rubbed by a colleague during wine tasting
  • Everyone always asking to try the Ice Wine
  • Someone took "good wine" notes that significantly increased in quantity over the course of the night
  • "Did you get that snow from outside?"
  • "Can I tip it out?"
  • One girl wasn't bashed by teens because they "heard she's a tough c*^t"
  • One couple lost the group, then met us on the way to the condo carrying delicious bread
  • Someone taught the Australians the value of a good rum snow cone
  • One couple went all "European" and got nude in the hot tub
  • The male nudie thought it was ok to try and wrestle people in the hot tub
  • Someone's stress ended in swilling rum from the bottle in the hot tub
  • Someone got drunk and went all SK
  • Someone having no idea how they managed to get into to the top bunk
  • Someone bled in the hot tub after being gouged by the nudist wrestler's nail
  • Two girls sat up in bed watching Clueless and eating roast chicken at 1am
  • 3 boys had 3 different yelling conversations until 3:30am in the hot tub
  • One couple had to listen to this conversation through the window on the pull out sofa
  • 4 of 8 people didn't step foot outside the condo Saturday
  • Mimosas Saturday morning
  • One dog having only child syndrome and never letting anyone pat the other dog
  • Someone woke up Saturday, got dressed to hit the slopes only to stagger back to bed
  • Pancakes and bacon one morning, and bacon and egg muffins the next
  • One couple made a late comeback at Crib
  • Cheese fondue for dinner
  • Two "Blue Bird" days on the hill, with positive temps keeping the snow soft
  • One couple graciously offered the master bedroom on night two, after spending a drunken, puking, full day sweating it out in bed
  • 3 people started watching the Canucks game, until halfway though the 2nd period. We changed to Zoolander
  • No domestics between the 8 people sharing a 2 bedroom condo
Rum Snow Cone! The toads loved the wine
I'm pretty sure both O'Hara and I lost some brain cells over the weekend. On Monday O'Hara went to Ottawa for the week (around -20 deg C) and forgot to take a jacket. That afternoon I left the petrol cap off when driving home. Fails!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Do you ski or snowboard?

We experienced our first attitude on the lift last weekend. Old skiers from AUSTRALIA! I was dirty, they're not even from here! I watched Mean Girls yesterday, best. This is how it went down;

O'Hara: Sorry, I just need to lift my feet a bit. Snowboards are a bit annoying on chair lifts.
Old Aussie Bitch: Uuuggghhhhhh, you should have seen my face when I realised we had to share a lift with snooowwwwboarders
O'Hara: Umm sorry, it's just a bit awkward.
Old Aussie Bitch: You take up soooo much room
Old Aussie Arsehole: THAT is why you're the most hated people on the mountain!
Maybe I should have offered them some Cherry Ripe? Or not sat down so much!
I never grew up with any preference for either. Generally the only people who grow up skiing in Australia are super rich. It makes sense since we don't exactly have a lot of mountains, and we also have the most expensive lift tickets in the world (in 2008 we did at least). I don't like the Winter Olympics for the same reason I don't like professional equestrian. If there is a direct correlation between ability and income, I'm not interested (yes I'm jealous, and yes you don't have to be rich to be good at skiing in Canada).

O'Hara and I decided to snowboard because 3 out of 4 siblings in his family have had at least one knee reconstruction. Dr. Google says snowboarding is easier on your knees because your feet are strapped facing one way. Where as with skiing, they're twisting all over the shop.

My boss has just started giving me attitude about snowboarding. It didn't come out of nowhere, I think within the first week he mentioned he hated snowboarders! As he's Australian and only started skiing 3 years ago, I can't take him too seriously. Apparently he doesn't like how they always sit down (jealous he can't), they are always high (not limited to snowboarders) and they have attitude (teenage boys? They're all jerks).

I think everyone's enemy on the mountain should be ski school/kid racers. Those guys always seem to be there when I stack it. Then zoom past and cover my path. O'Hara had a close call last week, apparently he rode over one of their skis. They have really, really short skis!

I wish we could all get along like we used to in middle school... I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy...

What is your winter sport? Why?

BTW who could hate these snowboarding fools?

And if you don't want to watch the whole thing, a highlight GIF!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

C is for Cars and Clamato Juice

There is no way you can choose just one of these when in Canada, so here goes.

I haven't heard of any city in Canada that is known for it's public transport. Here, cars rule. The bigger the better, you can't be a real man and not drive a truck. Obviously. Cars seem to be a status symbol here, so much more so than Australia. At home, old shit boxes are cool. Almost.

Unfortunately, not all Canadians are good drivers. This is coming from the self admitted worst driver ever, but people can be pretty shit. So many people drive huge utes, they drive as if they are the only people on the road. Also, parking them is obviously a bit of a joke. We started collecting photos of people who suck at parking, but it got old when we realised we could get multiple photos a week.

Winter has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works, with snow and ice causing all sorts of problems. I think I now understand why car insurance is so expensive here (over $2000 per year, for expats anyway). The other morning there were 4 accidents before 8am.
Try parking this bad boy between the lines

Clamato Juice
Picture the most delicious Bloody Mary you have ever had. Times it by maybe 2 (I was going to say a zillion, but that would just be too delicious) and that is a Caesar. Like a Bloody Mary except made with Clamato Juice.

The ingredients in Clamato Juice? Well I always thought it was just tomato juice and clam juice. Then I took a photo for the blog, but I wish I hadn't. Not really the most healthy of things.... how is it possible for tomato juice to have no vitamin C? Don't worry, MSG wasn't forgotten.

Dried clam broth, mmmmmmm, but it doesn't taste like clam really. It just kinda tastes like slightly sweeter tomato juice. Delicious.

I blame you curious people in Aus for making me read the ingredients. I now have knowledge regret.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Our First Ice Fishing Adventure

O'Hara and I were so keen to try this out, ever since we came to Canada and found out it's actually something that people do. My favourite thing to do is tell people I want to catch a fish so big it can't fit through my ice hole..... Unfortunately our first attempt went very similar to every single of O'Hara's other fishing attempts. Epic fail. Not even a nibble.

So, ice fishing is basically exactly what you'd expect. Drill a hole in the ice, sit and wait until you catch a fish. The fun part (aside from fishing if you get something) is the campfire, talking rubbish, whiskey and beer. Standard.
Watching the camera in the snow. Dedication
I love roasted marshmallows!!
It's also a pretty technical experience, if you go with Luke anyway there's no drop a line and wait. That would be silly. It's all about having an underwater camera, so you can see if there is fish there in the first place. How did we not catch anything even with a camera? O'Hara is the most unlucky fishing charm.

We also had a little mini hut thing, that you can sit in with a heater and fish for hours. When we went it wasn't overly cold and we had a fire so didn't really use it. I can imagine if it was much colder or there was more snow, it would be pretty important.
O'Hara trying to stay warm and some idiots on the underwater camera
We've got friends visiting in a month, so we're hiring a cabin by the lake for a weekend. Surely over 2 days we'll have to get something. I'm wondering if we don't take any food, there would be more incentive to catch something?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Canada Further East: Niagara Falls, Toronto and Fredericton

Finally finishing up the rest of our trip over East! We took the 10 hour trip from New York to Niagara, nice enough scenery but probably would have been better flying to Toronto. Trains make me so, SO sleepy. A 10 hour trip during the day had me sleeping around 70% of the time. Of course by the time we made it to Niagara I was EXHAUSTED!!

Niagara Falls, Ontario
The time of year that we visited was nice because it wasn't crowded at all, and also wasn't too cold. However, because Niagara Falls is actually a huge hydro electric dam they turn the flow down during the winter months. The Niagara Falls Power Company is required to maintain a minimum flow going over the falls, during summer days it's around 2,800m3 and during winter and at night time it's 1,400m3. So this meant we technically only saw the falls at half speed, but that's still a lot of water!
Beautiful Falls at night
They're thiiiiiissssss big!
Niagara Falls is a little bit like a small Vegas - casinos and tourist shops. We only spent one night there, but I think if you go for a few days it's worth while getting out of town and visiting the lakes and vineyard areas.
A prime example of the discrepancy between Canada and the USA. On the US side 1/4 price to use the binoculars!
Toronto, Ontario
O'Hara is in LOVE with Toronto. I think it's because we went all out with respect to food for the short time we were there. Toronto doesn't seem as hectic as other big cities nearby, but it has an awesome amount of diversity which means the variety of food is amazing. We also saw some fabulous design stores, which made us pretty happy. I can't wait to find a house we plan to live in for a long time and stock it with cool stuff. We'll have to go back to Toronto.

We checked out the Hockey Hall of Fame while there, and got to touch the Stanley Cup (NHL winners cup)!! Pretty cool, O'Hara is really disappointed with himself that he didn't lick it though. The Hockey Hall of Fame room was designed to be a bank. Canada decided that as hockey was going to be an integral part of it's culture, they would instead turn the building into a memorial hall of cups and best players. Only in Canada!
Emily with the Stanley Cup and the hectic vault used to store the old one
Australian Kangaroo (where else?) and a pretty church
Fredericton, New Brunswick
My little brother has just moved to Fredericton to do a semester of uni and be with his girlfriend (also Emily, great name). Fredericton is the capital of New Brunswick but it's a reasonably small town with about 30,000 people. Fredericton has a lot of French and English heritage which has lead to some beautiful downtown areas and architecture. The day we arrived there was a huge snowstorm which meant we had to circle the plane for an hour before landing, and also meant it was picture perfect when we got there.

On our first night O'Hara was convinced he should eat the Epic Burger at a local pub. This consisted of 2 pounds of beef, cheese curds, bacon, bacon, bacon and gravy. He ate it ALL! Epic effort alright. He didn't feel 100% that night, but lived through the ordeal without having a heart attack. The next day we went for a road trip out to the worlds longest covered bridge! Yep, it's a real thing in Hartland, New Brunswick.
Epic burger. Now you see it, now you don't!
Longest covered bridge. O'Hara's excited
GF Emily's family were kind enough to include us in decorating the Christmas Tree, which was a nice feeling as we didn't have a chance to get one in Kamloops. The day after, we spent with Jonathan exploring the scenic areas of Fredericton on foot. I finally found someone who slips on the ice more than me! Finally, and it's a good feeling.
Lovely duets and Christmas Tree
Of course all Australians want to do is find huge ice blocks and throw them off the bridge
Walking the the park with all the snow. So beautiful!
On our last day we went to the Farmers markets (they run all through winter which is awesome). There was a lot of local arts and crafts as well as food which was cool. I'm sad I didn't buy a pair of moose leather moccasins. I think I'll get Jonathan to pick me up a pair!

For dinner we went to Kings Landing, which is a historic settlement just out of Fredericton. The government was building a dam back in the day that would have flooded all the houses, so they picked them up and moved them! It's now an outdoor living museum. We had a traditional Christmas dinner that was wonderful and delicious. People came and sung us carols and made Jonathan (the only one not drinking) dance. Awesome!
Breakfast lobster roll at the markets, and Kings Landing dinner!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Canadian Happy Holidays

Well it's all over. The period that I was most excited for and dreading all at the same time. Excited because I was maybe going to experience a white Christmas and terrified because I knew I was going to miss everything going on at home.

So, we got the white Christmas! Kamloops generally doesn't get a lot of snow and December is a bit early but the snow Gods were happy with us and while we were on holidays Kamloops got snow. Quite a bit of snow really, enough that when we got home we had to shovel the driveway and scrape the car off!

Christmas didn't actually feel like Christmas at all, not because of the lack of decorations or snow or carols. Purely because Canada is almost a full day behind Australia at the moment. This meant I'd already spoken to my parents multiple times the day before and had a nice dinner because O'Hara was working Christmas day (no one feel bad for him, he only worked like 5 days in December).

I did however have a very fun day. I spent the day hanging out with the Wilsons and Greg and Lil. All Australians which I'd like to think meant we cracked the champas early. We spent the morning making Christmas food and sledding. Sledding for my first EVER time. It turns out it's actually quite fun. Especially when sled wars or trains occur. I'm clearly a giant kid at heart.
The sled train and my scared face!
For Christmas arvo we went to Kelly and Paul's house (American and Canadian) where they hosted 11 Australians for Christmas dinner, 2 deep-fried turkeys. Yep! This was obviously very kind of them. We drank and ate and drank and ate which is standard for Christmas.
Wii Just Dance and Christmas Love
Boxing Day I managed to be hungover enough that cleaning the house took around 5 hours. We were very lucky and got a cheeky visit from Daniel (O'Hara's brother) and Leonie. They were on the way through to Niagara for a wedding and stopped through.

Thursday we took Daniel and Leonie out to Lac du Bois with the Wilsons for more sledding and skating. Sadly the lakes were still too sloppy, so skating would likely to have ended in death or at a minimum soaked with ice water.
O'Hara will catch me, but not Daniel
O'Hara cooks a BBQ while we watch
The day ended with a beautiful sunset and moon. Perfection!
We managed a day at Sun Peaks in between Christmas and New Year, there was a bunch of snow which meant it was many soft landings for me. Winner!

For New Years Eve we made a late minute decision to head to Silver Star to visit the Wilsons and Burtons. More snow, beautiful ski village, tubing, skating and snowboarding. All in less than 24 hours!
It's important to hang on... sorry boys but this one is too good 
Ice-skating in the snow, and O'Hara learning how to play ice hockey
Above the clouds and me being a fail at snowboarding
Sadly my January 1st ended with a nasty stack, tears at the t-bar and a snow graze on my chin. Onwards and upwards I hope!

Thanks Wilsons for entertaining us for the holidays!