Not a cycling trip this time but Mars’s Toronto trip October 2015 – this is boring but is serving as my diary of the trip

Toronto trip October 2015

Saturday 3 October Auckland to Toronto

Left New Zealand and bereft Juddy on the evening of October 3. Asked Air New Zealand for the price of an upgrade as a long shot – if you don’t ask, you don’t get – and was delighted with the intervention of the Air New Zealand staff member giving me three seats in a row all to myself so a nice medicated stretch out sleep. Watching Goodbye Pork Pie and Last Cab to Darwin, great down under movies and the Hindu meal – curry for breakfast !!!helped make the 12 hour flight pass without a hitch…..and of course my trusty pillow .Lost passport for an anxious few minutes but found it on the floor of the seats behind.

Uneventful transfer at Vancouver to Air Canada and 4 hours to Toronto – no frills means no free food, no pillow, no nothing really but arriving safely is the point of the exercise which we did late at night still on 3 October. Toronto is 7 hours ahead but a day behind.

Caught $65.00 worth of cab to Rachel and Pete’s – brief chat before succumbing to tiredness and hitting the sack. Molly has kindly given me her bed and is sleeping on the floor

Sunday 4 October
Was awoken by two moko jumping all over me. Wonderful to see them. Walked to the park past a range of interesting shops – the inevitable $2 shops, tattooists, nail bars, pizza outlets, ethnic eateries – the streets are in a grid pattern and neighbourhood not unlike what we remember of London although the houses are quite different – vernadahed two storied steep roofed and a combination of two together or on their own – all basically the same but with individual interpretations – windows, bricks/weatherboards, Prices are sky rocketing like Auckland – a very average semidetached example over Wolverleigh Road sold recently for $800,000. The only option these days for first home buyers appears to be in a tower block.

Found myself with eyelids closing uncontrollably while trying to stay awake while watching Charlie – jet lag leaves you feeling weird. Molly is attending a birthday party.

Monday 5 October

A school day. Walked with Pete and Molly so I know the drill. School is three blocks along the same street. Charlie has diarrhoea so is home. Had a jet lag induced sleep – repeated every day this week. Picked Molly up from school. Accompanied Rachel to ice skating and hockey classes. She is doing so well with her skating and does not shrink from getting amongst it during the games which cap off the evening. Takes about half an hour for Rachel to get the gear on and ends up looking like michelin man/robot/moonwalker. Not surprising that she dislocated her shoulder on day 1 of last season.

Tuesday 6 October

Charlie’s 4th birthday – still off school but no sign of systemic illness – just the squirts. Presents, pizza tea, peanut butter chocolate slice with candles. Continence remains a problem for Charlie of number 1s and 2s. Feels ashamed when wets and poos, denies it and refuses to be changed. Tantrum ensues.

Wednesday 7 October

Day featured riding along the quite busy Danforth Road to a shoe repair shop that I had spotted earlier for my very ancient multipurpose shoes which had parted company with its sole on the trip to school on Monday. Continued along almost as far as town. I think I have the riding on the wrong side of the road sussed and it doesn’t feel too dangerous. Rachel’s bike is a hoot – with its basket on the front which makes it a bit wobbly and old style frame and handlebars which make for a very upright posture. Had to get used to a back pedal brake, single gear, right hand side of the road riding and its quite heavy. Practised 3/4 times around the block.

Pete’s being on call made him unavailable for school pickup and Rachel, working full time for 4 weeks had meeting so I picked Molly and Charlie up. Then there were swimming lessons scheduled just along the road at 6 and 5 pm respectively. Well what a mission. Charlie was ready 15 minutes before Molly and while sitting waiting, a very ominous looking and ever growing wet patch developed on the asphalt around him, and I spent a full half hour sitting on the footpath with him trying to persuade him to start the journey home – dragging his feet, shouting etc. Reason did not prevail. Finally got some action when he finally agreed to ride Molly’s scooter home and Molly rode Charlie’s little bike. Maybe he had run out of steam. Felt exasperated and let him sit in his disgustingly smelly (by now doubly so with poo which he later confessed had erupted while riding the scooter home) school clothes while having an early tea as at first he wouldn’t hear of my changing them. However a miracle appeared to happen with an incentive in the form of the present from Mars and Juddy being hidden, discovered, and opened. And later on he confessed he needed to go again and I took him to the loo……just in time, well almost anyway. Much reinforcement ensued. By this time the 5 pm swimming session was long off the agenda and we met Pete as we all walked to Molly’s at 6. Mars’s meatball recipe did not disappoint – good on Pete for putting them together.

I am pleased to have internet access so have skyped, texted and emailed Juddy. Am having some contact with Geneva who have a job I’m interested in and we are arranging a skype/telephone interview.

Thursday 8 October

Ventured out on Rachel’s bike again, this time heading north slightly downhill towards Lake Ontario. This road leading directly to the lake, is busier and has trams and tram tracks to negotiate and the wind from the lake was very chilly – I wasn’t fully prepared. Started out with NZ flag cycling shirt but was glad to need a layer on top as riding like a sedate old lady on a vintage bike in full cycling gear would have looked incongruous! Bikes of a variety of permutations are seen on the streets probably ridden for utilitarian or commuting purposes but today on the cycle path I kept to (when I wasn’t lost) were mainly road bikes with the accompanying lycra gear which we are familiar with at home or hybrids like the ones we used on our overseas cycling trips. Speed limit of 20kph was clearly not complied with by the lycra clad men.
Rode as far as the track led in one direction including riding on boardwalks where cyclists are supposedly prohibited – woops, and then miles in the other direction towards Hamilton. Apart from some areas which are still under construction, the paths were excellent usually with a blue line in the middle to follow. Some very new sections had cyclist specific traffic lights and it was pleasant to meander between the skyscrapers of central Toronto and the lake shore. I had intended to ride to the end of the cycle path but the end never appeared and I was informed that the path went on for miles – as far as Hamilton, 76 km from Toronto! So I was glad to find that out and turn around, not getting lost on the ride ‘home’ but facing a head wind. The autumn colours are becoming intense and I thought of Simon as the stands of spectacularly red rhus trees contribute significantly to the range of colours. Calculated that I had ridden about 45km…and it felt like it. Actually I’ve found the bike had 3 gears which may have helped but I didn’t really need them.

Picking up time at the school is an eye opener with parents /grandparents /caregivers standing around with teachers either lining the children up and releasing them when the appropriate adult turns up or standing at the school door and releasing them one at a time. The image of Lotto balls come to mind. And the vehicles which some people use to transport younger children are fantastic – four seaters with children facing each other a bit like a Santa sleigh, a roller coaster or an open top gondola , three seater push chairs with the seats in a line facing the front, carts / wagons like those pushed around at kindergarten, loaded with kids. Definitely photos begging to be taken.

Went with Pete to the supermarket – Loblaws – you’ve never seen anything like it – huge, with aisles and aisles of endless varieties of everyday and more exotic goods all very nicely presented. I’ll go back there and the bike path with the camera.

Observation of the day – you can purchase plastic crates which fit beautifully into specially designed supermarket trolleys – better even than cloth bags

Friday 9 October

Received a call from Rachel and Pete who were both working saying the school wanted someone to pick Charlie up as he had had continence accident so dropped everything and walked the three blocks to school where I found Charlie in the office looking somewhat subdued but he meekly walked home with me but would not let me change his pants nor stop him from sitting on the couch which had to wait till Pete came home. Put some quiches together for dinner on ready made pastry shells, a great idea. Picked up Molly. When the children are picked up they have smoothies – getting the hang of this routine!

Packed up the car after dinner and drove 4 hours to the cottage at Seely Bay(?) on the lake. Trip was slower than average as this is Thanksgivng weekend with Monday a holiday and everyone has decided to travel at this time. Children went to sleep for most of the journey and Rachel and I chatted away the time. Mostly motorway. Arrived 10.45 pm. Bundled the children into their respective beds in The Shed, Rachel and Pete’s quarters with little light and it was quite a cold night. It’s a cute little building with me sleeping on the top bunk of Molly’s bed and Rachel disappearing up a ladder to a (very hard) bed. With duvets and sleeping bags we were all toastie. The composting toilet is intriguing and I could not detect any odour. Lovely warm feeling polystyrene seat and lid and instructions to cover any number twos with soil. There were to be no washes or showers for the next couple of days ….nor number twos actually and unwashed hair scrunched into a woolly hat! Felt quite ill at ease the whole weekend perceiving quite a separation between the Carscallen family et al and Rachel myself and the kids. We became reacquainted with Mickey and Bill, Barbara, Mickey’s sister and Tom from Dover New Hampshire, Nanny aged 99 (100 in January 2016) and big Emma and on the second day Claudio Falsetto Lei, little Emma and baby William.

Saturday 10th October

Today was all about the thanksgiving dinner including more food than anyone could eat, a turkey the size of an elephant and the cooking thereof, with all the trimmings – cranberry sauce, gravy and elaborate stuffing, brussels sprouts broccoli, beets (anaemic beetroot) new potatoes. Dessert comprised a Pete made pumpkin pie (they get pumpkin puree from a tin), apple crumble with lashings of cream and banana cake with cream cheese topping – my banana cake and pumpkin pie are way better! That meal was the only one we ate together. The rest of the meals were very ad hoc, eating what and when you felt like. Rather odd when we are used to eating with any guests we invite to stay with us. Sounds like the bed may be the hospitality and the meals not necessarily being part of the package when you are a Canadian host.

Pete had come for the day with Emma yesterday, left in the evening by train for Toronto because he is on permanent call with days off thrown in randomly – a very family unfriendly

I sat quietly reading the latest Frederic Forsyth ‘The Kill List’ by the fire and wasn’t really included in the somewhat gossipy conversation. Barbie a ‘realtor’ carries a handgun much to the disapproval of everyone else including her husband, is very outspoken in disdain for the ex Democrat Vice-President Al Gore and his views on climate change as expressed in a documentary for which he received a Nobel prize, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ describing him as a hypocrite for having a lavish lifestyle. She calls Barak Obama as a jerk!

Molly got scared and screamed the place down from The Shed so Rachel turned in early. And Charlie had intermittent tantrums when asked to do anything especially sit on the toilet or have his pants changed, with some boot camp thrown in to try and manage it.

Sunday 11th October

The ad hocness of the meals continued. Pottered around the cottage, went to Wendy’s country market for maple syrup, went for a joy ride in ‘Kiwi’, Lei’s boat and packed up after an early dinner for the this time 3 1/4 hour trip home – traffic was steady but did not hold us up and the children didn’t fall asleep until half an hour before we arrived home. Two days was long enough at the cottage!

Monday 12 October

Vey pleased to have the first shower for three days. It was Thanksgiving holiday and allowed Rachel and the children to just potter around and play. Rachel being energiser bunny couldn’t be idle for too long and we drove to the skate park where Rachel had filmed Charlie earlier – it was humming and Molly and Rachel rode scooters while Charlie rode around on his bike. Took the log way home to see some different parts of the city in daylight. I don’t remember any of it from our last brief overnight visit. The next day spotted Bond St where we had stayed in hotel before boarding a double decker ‘explorer’ type bus – I had had a migraine I seem to remember.

Tuesday 13 October

At Rachel’s suggestion took the bus from Coxwell station down to Queen Street and then the tram the whole length of Queen Street. They have a transfer system in that when you have to change tram/bus provided it is going in the same direction it only costs $3.00 altogether. And when I stayed on the tram when it reached the end of the line at Humber, it didn’t cost me any more. It was a wonderful way to see parts of the city with hundreds of small shops/business all along the way. Got off the tram on the return journey in the centre of the ‘Fashion’ section. The street labels helpfully tell you where you are e.g. the art and design, the garden, the (insert the name of the suburb) district. Browsed the chain stores – The Bay,H&M, The Gap, Aldo, Zara, Jo something, Guess – winter range with lots of repetition in the shops of imported cheapish clothes all made in China as we are used to but also India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Turkey. Bought a $20 zipped jacket probably made by underpaid workers in sweat shops, in a Gap sale. Found a delightful rock n’ roll inspired shop – Tatyana, with dresses, shoes brimming with polka dots and bows. Unfortunately a lovely pair of black and white brogues with red trim didn’t fit – Lola Ramona brand from Denmark. Looked them up on the internet with exchange rate at 1000 Danish Krona = $225. Not excessively expensive but not cheap either which is not surprising for such an interesting collection. The trip home took ages as trams are slow and stop often at stops and traffic lights.

Had a Skype interview with Janice Brown and Jayd from student health. It went well and I am seriously interested in the nurse leader role. It is promising that they want to do reference checks, but I wonder if Barbara Stevens has spread some poison around the three PHOs I have applied for jobs with. We’ll see. I wonder if working at Student health is where I end up working for the next few years.

Wednesday 14 October

Rachel is beside herself with stress but bravely took herself off to work in the hope that the others she is working with are starting to get the picture that what they are hoping for is not doable. She valiantly takes the children to school on her way to work.
I met Emma at Eaton Mall having got off at the wrong tram stop and had to ask a policeman for directions. We browsed till the middle of the day then Emma wen home and I was let loose in this large 3 storied mall. Same conclusion as yesterday re the goods in the shops – winter stock – boots, coats and tartan shirts much the same in all the shops but I did buy a black and white striped cover, and a screen protector for my new Samsung S6 mobile and a pair of broguey shoes with a buckle, black of course.

Slow trip home and picked Molly up from the swimming pool where Charlie was having a swimming lesson, and then we went back for her lesson. They have begun to practise overarm and sidestroke. Molly is just delightful, participating fully with great enjoyment.

Thursday 15 October

Rode bike to shoe repair shop – glad to get them back all clean, polished and wearable. Actually Doc Martens put out a very similar shoe, but mine were from Hannahs in 1988! Rode on Danforth Road the other way this time – the directions are frequently used, so today’s ride was in an easterly direction past more and more of the small shops/businesses which line the road with the occasional other kind of building – medical centres, Shoppers’ Markets, Loblaws etc. This road appears to go on for ever so I turned back heading south on a parallel west heading road with a Subway roll and chocolate brownie en route. Arrived in time to pick Molly up from school and after a bit of a play on the school equipment took her to her half hour recorder lesson during which time I had a cup of tea at Circus. There was a market, somewhat depleted from the usual lineup I’m told because of the cold wind. Stood by the French fries stall hoping in vain someone would order the advertised ‘poutine’ , chips, gravy and cheese which sounds gross but is a canadian specialty.

Long Skype with Juddy.

Friday 16 October

Rachel has quit her awful job and the world is a better place for everyone and the Rachel we know has returned. Lots of learnings from this hideous experience. Maybe her industry is not the place to work when her husband has irregular and inconvenient hours and her present priority is her kids whom she adores.
Temperature has plummeted.
Pete made Charlie’s birthday cake The Death Star from Star Wars. A work of art and a good chocolate cake recipe which I will try.

Today is the day when the side of the road that cars are permitted to be parked changes – the 16th of the month. This will occur again on he 1st of next month. Such wonderful idea as this means there is room for cars to pass down the street

Saturday 17 October

Temperature 0 rising to 6 during the day.
Charlie’s party day. 4 little boys and bedlam. Rachel put together an obstacle course, pass the parcel, treasure hunt an had made light sabres from pool noodles. 2 hours seemed quite a long time.Emma came after night duty at St Michaels. Store bought frozen meatballs and cheese tarts were an excellent and edible labour saving option which we snacked on all day.

This afternoon the All Blacks played France in the quarterfinal of the Rugby World Cup. France has proved to be the All Blacks’ bête noire (literally) in two world cups so there was some trepidation in the air. Rachel and I cycled to a pub reputedly owned by kiwis in town and in 6 degrees. In the end it was an anticlimax as the ABs beat France in wonderful show of superb rugby (unless thetas an oxymoron) 62-13 or thereabouts, France not scoring in the second half. Biggest RWC quarter final score. It was an adventure going to Hemingways on our bikes and enjoying the company of AB supporters and arriving home still in daylight. Pete’s bike is easier to ride being more like my mountain bike – should have been using it all along. Still enjoying Charlie’s birthday cake. Finished constructing Lego Darth Vader which I had pulled to pieces earlier in my visit – quite complex.

Sunday 18 October

Max 6 degrees today. Muffled up in hat, scarf and gloves.
A family trip via subway to Kensington Market and bagel lunch. Quite interesting with vintage clothes, hippy type clothes and costumes galore. Encountered road closures for the Toronto marathon. I stayed on longer and tackled the subway by myself, as excellent as London’s, New York’s and Lisbon’s and no doubt most decent sized cities, except Auckland. I don’t know why I am a little anxious about underground rail systems, turnstiles, ticket purchasing, getting lost or squashed or missing my stop etc. Bought red and black check shirt at ROOTS – vey Canadian.

Observation of the day – in chinatown a mannequin displaying tights with bandy legs just like the chinese!

The country is going nuts in anticipation of Hallowe’en in a couple of weeks. Houses have displays of orange pumpkins, ghosts, guys, bodies, tombstones and other ghoulish things and 164 Wolverleigh Boulevard was no exception by the time when I arrived home.

Rachel and Pete are going out and I will be fire warden.

I have to say that I wish I was able to help more with managing the kids,bathing them, feeding them putting them to bed etc but whenever there is a parent around, I have no chance.

I am wondering whether there is a dietary cause for Charlie’s meltdowns. May be worth looking at.

Monday 19 October

Temperature -0.03! Warmed up to 14 during the day.

Today Molly took the day off to spend with Marsie. She was somewhat reluctant to go out but just when we thought we would be staying at home she decided she would after all like to go up the Toronto CN Tower, so we set off for Union station, changing subway trains at St George. After a short walk in very windy conditions we paid our $60 for the two of us – expensive because of all the staff they employ to operate a security check AND to check us when we went through an archway blowing air to dislodge loose particles so that any explosives dust could be detected instantaneously….you can imagine the response if they are!

Walked over the glass floor and then wet outside to a balcony – on one side the wind was so strong and chilly, it nearly bowled Molly over. Retereated inside. Located the general direction (east) where Molly’s house might be and located the off shore airport close to the city where Pete flies from. Had lunch in he basement of the tower as Molly really didn’t want to hang about then caught the subway home.

Pete is off today an Rachel and he went shopping and Pete cooked a Thai chicken dish. I had a Skype teleconference with Frontline Health re the Alliance Health Plus practice advisor position. It seems tick all the boxes so it will be very interesting when the recruitment consultant recommends AH+ to interview me as It may well be that Barbara may already have badmouthed me to the other PHOs. I have applied for a Nurse Educator position at Procare and the same lingering anxiety applies. I feel there will be no lengths Barbara won’t go to to ensure I do not get another job, in a PHO anyway notwithstanding the agreement.

Tuesday 20 October

Sadly his is my last full day in Toronto and Rachel and I spent the morning together investigating the St Lawrence Market, a gourmet’s paradise with the cheeses, meats, fish and other delicacies. Walked to The Distillery District which has been turned into a delightful collection of boutiques selling beautifully designed and vintage clothes and artefacts. Rcahel is struggling to decide what she can do with her life now both kids are at school and she needs to be busy, given Pete’s family incompatible schedule and her devotion to her children which is so wonderful. She would love to work in her industry but this latest 3 week nightmare has made her think again about whether this is realistic. Met the children from school and early dinner, further chat with Rachel.

Wednesday 21 October

Molly is distraught as we say goodbye. This didn’t help me remain staunch as I planned. Charlie more phlegmatic! I will become Molly’s penpal sending real letters. Brief farewell to Rachel at Coxwell also painful, with subway to Union and airport express. Have 3 hours till I have to board my flight to Vancouver, but I have plenty of tea drinking, and diary writing in me to while away the time. Everything, connections, check ins etc have gone like clockwork. Juddy and I have done lots of travelling so this trip on my own has not fazed me. Will be keen to get home though.

Summary of trip:

Good to take advantage of an Air New Zealand sale
Wonderful to see Rachel Pete and the moko and to see more of their lives, get to know the neighbourhood and to see something of Toronto
Good to get out of Auckland while the dust settles after my PHO exiting experience
Have applied for three jobs online and had two Skype interviews while I’ve been her
Have had some encouraging texts from Lisbeth after people were left sad and stunned at my sudden departure. Haven’t been able to say much
Great to be here to help when Rachel took on this 4 week contract which ended up being too hard. Rachel returned to being herself after a few days of soul searching as she has not been eating or sleeping properly, and the children, mainly Charlie appeared to be able to manage his continence better! It’s amazing what effect a change in the availability of his mother made.
My last week and a half was particularly enjoyable. Glad to leave feeling positive which I don’t think would have happened if Rachel had finished the contract. In the event the arrangements that Rachel made for the Organic Panic show all went ahead and her bosses were OK about everything
Missed Juddy and home.
Good to do the small amount of cycling I managed to do. Certainly a cycle friendly city. Should have used Pete’s bike from the start but it was fun wobbling along on Rachel’s. Have not really fasted, have not done a lot of exercise so am likely to have put on some kilos. Don’t know how soon I’ll go out on the bike when I get home.

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