Sunday, 31 May 2009

Toronto 2 Day 3 - Spiffing Day

What a simply spiffing day :-D

Woke up at about a quarter to seven, abluted, played on the computer a bit, and completed the quizzes, went down for breakfast and had a couple of slices of bread which were a sort of cross between a baguette and ciabatta, and simply lovely with butter, and a cup of coffee, I know I shouldn't really have had that since I was having brunch however I had a voucher for a free breakfast and I like using freebies!

Then set out, me and my new Indigo bag to the city halls, I think it is a lovely place for Kim and Abdul to get married, just wish I had come in a couple of months so I could see it! Actually I am on holiday that week...

Anyway I then purchased a three day ticket for a double decker bus tour, one had perused the leaflet t'other day and it passed right by the brunch location, and after the crappy tour I had on my first full day I really wanted to get a bit more of the history of the town and see things like Casa Loma. As it turns out this three day tour was slightly cheaper than the three hour one.

I then looked at Moby to see what time it was, unfortunately his battery is a little rubbish now, so he had completely discharged in a couple of days. Anyway I leapt on the first bus, there was only me and the guide on there, so I got personnal service until we reached the CN tower, the chappie was very pleasant and informative, then some other people got on, and he was still pleasant and informative, however over a loudspeaker.

The bus dropped me just outside the Hot House where we were having brunch, so I ambled around the car boot sale that was being held, tried a second cup coffee place, which was sort of a cross between Timmies and Starbucks, then I took some money out of the bank so that I could see what time it was, five minutes till brunchtime! So sauntered back to the Hot House, and joined the queue, just in front of me was a beautiful blonde with someone who could have played prop forward, they said that their table was called Skye, as it happened that was the name of my table as well! So when they were called forward I introduced myself, and apparently became the first OTer that Skye had met

:-) (sorry Mr. Yoffer).

So we went and sat down, and were joined almost immediately by Bullzeye, again it wasn't weird at all, just really nice to chat with these people, Mr. Skye was Dean, and whilst he was a little quiet (possibly overwhelmed by the serial killers) he seemed really nice. Then we were joined by Mr. Yoffer himself, he could only stay for an hour or so, but it was really nice to see him, then I get a little lost, I think Seana was next (yes I have met Seana, the person who hooked me on RTVW, I felt a little like a fanboy) she gave me some Canadian Tire money, which is well cool. Then we received news from Maroonclown who was running a little late but would like a Bloody Mary when she arrived!

We chatted for ages, it was really nice, although I was a little quiet, that is the way that I am, at least until some sort of dam breaks and then you cannot shut me up! The conversation was really nice and friendly, everyone seemed to get on really well, when MC and Mr. MC joined us that just ratched up the chatting a little, and I ordered a "breakfast Martini" which was a martini with a little marmelade in it! Actually it was really nice, eventually someone realised that although we were there for brunch we hadn't started on the food yet!

A very impressive spread, many types of bread and cakes (Seana remembered that I have a nut allergy ), roast salmon, and beef and ham carved off the bone, fruit, an omlette station, salads (although the couscous was a little larger than I have seen before) two types of sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, potato wedges, chicken in blackbean sauce with noodles, chicken in a dark sauce, oh oodles of things. So I took some crab salad, prawn salad, olives, and some of the chicken, not sure what the dark sauce was, but it was very nice, and a couple of sausages.

More chatting, and another martini then Seana and BYoffer had to leave, the six of us remaining chatted on, and went for a second plate (well MC didn't, although I'm not sure why she certainly doesn't need to watch her figure) where I had some carved ham, potato wedges, and another piece of the chicken, I might have had something else but I cannot remember. More chatting, and then eventually the party broke up. I had a really nice time, if anyone is reading this and is worried about meeting people from the internet, a) make sure that you meet them in a public place, and b) don't worry if they are anything like the people I have met they are really going to be worth meeting.

Having parted from MC, Mr MC, Skye, Mr Skye, and Bullzeye :-( I popped into a chemists to get some water, over here Chemists are the equivalent of supermarkets in the UK, it must be confusing for them when they come over and try to buy a loaf of bread in Boots! And then stood waiting for the bus to come round, after a few minutes of standing out in the sun (I don't think I have mentioned that the weather today was glorious, it was a little nippy first thing, but even then sitting in the sun was lovely), the bus pulled up, it was the same one as this morning, and again I was the only tourist on it! So had a personal tour on the bus until we arrived at Casa Loma where four more people got on.

Casa Loma, I didn't get off today, that is the plan for tomorrow, however even over the trees it looks like a small castle, very pretty, but a sad story, apparently the matey who had it built owned the leclec, I think in Canadia, but it may have only been Ontario, anyway when it was nationalised he got not a penny out of it, and was evicted when he couldn't pay his rates.

A very interesting tour of Toronto, the chap on the bus suggested that the ferry to the island would probably be a better bet for me than the tour of the islands, so the plan is to see what time Casa Loma opens, and if it is in the morning to go there, and then to the island for lunchtime, otherwise the island in the morning (and maybe for lunch) and then to Casa Loma for the afternoon, I am determined to have a paddle though! And at some time I must find one of the Chinatowns.

Left the bus at city hall, and walked up to the Atrium centre (a different one!) where I popped into a bar because I needed to use the facilities, and had a Martini. Then popped next door to a sushi bar, where I purchased some sushi for supper this evening (flying fish roe! Not sure if that or fatty tuna is my fave), and ambled back to the hotel via a Tim Hortons.

Booked in for another night at reception, was thinking of going to Kingston, however I have decided that I would like to go to the St. Lawrence market, and possibly the zoo (or the science park) so I think staying on Tuesday seemed like a good idea, still not sure how to get to Niagara, however I am veering towards hiring a car from the airport, although the bus station is not too far away from me, and I have seen something about a shuttle from the Falls to Niagara on the Lake, so I am still not sure.

Popped back to my room, and then was called back to reception as the card that they had on file expires today, gave them my new card, and then returned to the room, did a touch of typing, and then popped up to the clubroom, it is on the 32nd floor, so I made sure that I was not in a scenic lift! It was very large, with wonderful views over the city (although I didn't get closer than six feet to the windows, niceish snacks, although not up to London ON standards, let alone Rotterdamn and one had to pay for alcoholic drinks :-| Stayed there for a while looking at the view, and now back to base.

All in all a very nice day, the weather was beautiful, I met some very nice people (who probably think I am dull), had a very enjoyable meal with then, had a super tour of the city, saw the city from the 32nd floor, and now sushi and a boston cream doughnut for supper!

BTW there is a series on the BBC wireless at the moment called ElvenQuest, which is most amusing. It is a humerous take on fantasy, but none the worse for that.

Toronto 2 Day 2

Awoke at about seven this morning, washed and brushed, I'm on the 18th floor, so I am still a little nervous going near the window! Played on the computer for a bit, going well on Arkie and Snidgets quizzes, and on Triviapalooza, not so well in the others. Also enjoying Farkle which Asrai introduced me to.

Then went down to breakfast, Eggs Benedict on the buffet :-), really very pleasant, much better than yesterdays I really really enjoyed them. Read the paper as I was dining, highlight of the paper for me today was that one of the questions asked of Canadians in reference to their possible next Prime Minister was "does he drink coffee from Timmies?" fantastic question, I cannot think what they would ask that would be the same in the UK. I used to hear Michael Ignatieff quite a bit on the radio in the UK, and he has always struck me as very intelligent, not sure if that is a good thing in politics though.

My new hotel is just around the corner from the city hal, so I ambled round there in the morning, and then to... the Eaton Centre! Purchased a book, and bag from Indigo (not carrying the rocksack today), looked at buying Fade, however as it is only available in hardback, and I have a copy at home I decided against. Then I tried to take some money out, no joy as the system was unavailable!

Then ambled round a little more, and tried to get some money out again, this time I was told that my bank had refused me :-( So I gave them a call to ask for an explanation, apparently it was a fraud risk, they did the same when I was in Rome, but they have never done it apart from those two times. All those months in countries all over Europe and no problems, I think they plan it to refuse the card when I am on holiday! Anyway the card is now working in Canada.

Now that I had a little more cash I went to Baskin Robbins in memory of Pepe, had a nice Rum and Raisin, why is that so rarely available in the UK?

And then caught the tube to Union station, and took the Skythingy to the Rogers stadium, a lot of people heading that way, which reminds me the hotel is supposed to be on the PATH (Underground city in Toronto) however I haven't worked out how it works yet, as I can get lost in a small city like London even with landmarks I suspect that I should only go down in the PATH when I can afford to amble around with nothing particular to do.

Anyway arrived at the Rogers, quite large crowds, but getting in was very easy, purchased a pint of beer, however they only seemed to have Budweiser (I still cannot believe that they were allowed to purchase the original Budweiser brewery so they could still continue to use a name not really their own). As we all know in the UK the reason American beer is served so cold is because it tastes like gnats piss when it warms up. Anyway I chugged it down, which was not actually that pleasing an experience, and went to my seat.

A very good seat, Aisle 117, Row 15, and seat 11. I was actually about eight rows from the field, and nearly level with the pitchers mound (why do pitchers need mounds?) the view was really very good, There were about 20 seats between aisles, so I was in the middle of a row. Before the game there was a skipping rope performance by a group of eight to twelve year old girls, very village fetey, but somehow touching.

Then the national anthems, performed by the leads in "The Sound of Music" here in Toronto. National anthems at non-national sporting events always seem a little strange to me, I guess it is what you grow up with though, although the strangest use of a National Anthem to me is still the fact that they play it before opening Seaworld in Orlando.

And on to the Ball game, Firstly the crown: Toronto won yesterday having lost nine games in a row, and thrown away a convincing lead in their division prior to that, so the crowd were perhaps less het up than they might have been. In fact I have been in libraries that were noisier, I have certainly never been at a sports event with less atmosphere, even Barnet vs Aldershot when Aldershot were in administration and the players couldn't be bothered was more tingling. To be fair the stadium tried to get everyone more excited with strange hammond organ type music, however there was no chanting, no singing, no repartee, it just seemed very restrained to me. Maybe it was where I was sitting, in an expensive area, whilst the real fans were elsewhere? I hope so.

The stadium itself was very impressive, on my level there were concessions all around the ring, inside were selling Blue Jays merchandise outside were all sorts of food and drink concessions, mainly sausages in a bun and panini, although I didn't go all the way round. It was a lovely day in Toronto, so the roof was open, although luckily enough it got a little dark later, so I got to see the roof closing which was most impressive. After the second innings I tracked out and purchased a hot dog with all the trimmings (which were fried peppers), I was surprised there was none of that strange liquid cheese or chilli, however I did manage to find mustard, tomato ketchup, raw onion and cucumber relish to anoint it with, difficult to eat, however I managed!

The game itself, well the Toronto bowler was a little rough at first, he "walked" about three players in the first two innings, it looked as if Toronto were in for a tonking, however after the third innings they took control, and won.

Ambled back to Union station and caught the tube to Bay, I only have three tokens left at the moment, and I want to go and see Runnymede, just because I live at the original. Went to Hemmingways had a poor Margarita, two pints of Rickards weissbier which was nice, and some calamari, when I say some there were actually an awful lot of them however they were most pleasant as well.

Then on to the tube again, and down to Osgoode, sat around a little outside the opera and saw a young chap in white jacket taking girl to opera in one of those stupidly long limousines, I'm really not sure if they were as old as sixteen. She looked most elegant, he really hadn't thought out his wardrobe, however thinking back I'm not sure that many teen boys ever do. A roll of thunder and I walked back to the hotel.

Really looking forward to meeting up with everyone tomorrow, now for a happy night in the arms of Morpheus.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Toronto 2 Day 1

Better night last night, I think I am finally acclimatising to the time change.

Anyway woke up at about seven, bathed, and went for breakfast, Eggs Benedict! Not great, but the yolks were lovely and runny, have to admit I am still looking for Canadian bacon, I guess I will see it in the market if it is ever open when I am here! I'm guessing that I will not be able to make it after the baseball tomorrow, and it is shut on Sunday and Monday, still considering staying in Toronto for one more night though, in which case I could go there on Thursday.

Rewind! It was a beautiful morning in London, so I had a small walk around town before completing my packing and walking to the station, very civilised in the lounge sipping at orange juice reading the paper, then on to the train, again a very comfortable seat, however I did not partake of lunch this time, as to be honest I was still very full from yesterday, and breakfast this morning, however I did enjoy a couple of lovely glasses of wine.

Thoughts on the train were a little different this time, looking at all of the forest as we were moving along I was struck by how brave the first explorers were, going through these woods, not knowing what they would see, there could be dinosaurs, panthers, quicksands, who knows? And yet still they went on, under appreciated I think.

Arrived at Union station and got in a taxi, arrived at the hotel, and checked in quite happily, then to the room, as it turns out I will not be going to the CN tower, two of the lifts at the hotel are "scenic" or to use the vernacular glass, I did not enjoy the experience at all. Very nice hotel room though, although paying for the internet is a little off! The clubroom is shut at weekends :-( however I do have two full breakfast vouchers for the weekend :-) And a $25 voucher for the hotel restaurant.

Then a walk around, ending up at the Eaton Centre (again!) where I had a bowl of poutine, and felt full up all over again, more ambling and now back at hotel, the plan is for another early night, maybe watching the baseball.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

London Day 3

Still waking early, and mucking about on facebook before bathing.

Fruit, Bagels and Cheese for breakfast again, I think tomorrow I will pay and have Eggs Benedict which I really like.

Anyway, it was pissing it down today, so I rushed over to the Citimall and ambled around a bit, the library was quite big and seemed well stocked. However most things didn't open until ten, so there wasn't a lot to do. Thence to Covent Garden, where I was like a drowned rat when I arrived, had a cup of coffee and tried to start drying out, then walked round the market looking in detail at what was available, a lot of interesting and nice stuff, if I was able to cook I could have purchased a lot of very nice things, I was tempted to some Borek, but the portions were huge!

After a couple of hours I went into "Waldo's on King" for lunch, on the table were balsamic vinegar and olive oil in which to dip the simply divine filo breadsticks, I have never had them so light and moreish, a Martini to drink that was very pleasant then Crab, Scallop, and Prawn bisque, normally I don't like the taste of dill, other aniseeds I don't mind, but I have always found dill to taste mediciney, however this bisque was simply divine the dill enhanced the flavours wonderfully. Then Perch in a butter sauce with mangetout and mixed basmati and wild rice, sadly the front of my t-shirt now has butter all over it, again it was perfectly cooked, however I didn't overly care for the fish itself. No pudding! Best meal foodwise since I got over here, highly recommended if anyone is ever in London.

As I was sauntering around I looked at the menu of a place called "Only on King" which looks very nice, so I will try to go there this evening, although I don't know if I will get in.

Anyway ambled around London a little more looking for a bookshop or computer games shop, found a role playing games shop where the chap was extremely disinterested in customer service, I was going to purchase a couple of magazines, haven't seen the Dragon for ages, but he put me off. Was back in the Citimall again when the rain started to fall seriously heavily again, strangely for Canada there is no coffee shop there, so I ordered a little Arbies which was very nice for fast food, and a mountain dew, the first one on this trip.

Then walked back to the hotel for a little afternoon nap.

OK so I ended up going to "The Only on King" at least partially because I liked the name (for the same reason I may end up going to "Bite Me" in Toronto), although I now discover that it was the sixth best new restaurant in Canada in 2008.

Something that has occurred to me though, Canadians do seem to eat quite early, I arrived at the restaurant at about seven and it was almost full, a few people came in after me but not many, I quite like that as an idea, when I go out in the UK it seems that people don't start eating until eight at the earliest, and this means that I don't get to bed until very late, whereas this way I actually get back to bed at a reasonable hour.

They do a "Tasting Menu" that isn't really a tasting menu, but four courses, Appetiser, Salad, Fish, and Meat for a set price, however they will not tell you what is on the menu until it arrives! I ordered that along with the accompanying wines. Then came the bread, it was very bad indeed and I began to fear for the meal.

Then came the first of the courses roast fennel and "new season" asparagus soup with creme fraiche, it was very nice, not quite up to the bisque earlier today, but very nice. It was served with a very nice white wine (whilst I remember all of the wines were Canadian :-) ). Then the salad, crispy pork jowl (Which was like a deep fried bacon, but cut a little thicker than bacon), with white and green asparagus, some baby fern (whos name I have forgotten, but it was good) and a poached egg, with a vinaigrette, which was very very nice indeed. The wine that accompanied it was called Noble something and was slightly petillante but smelt of paint which put me off.

Next up a rose wine, and to accompany it, two scallops, one very nice prawn, on spinach and a carrot curry sauce, I think the carrot only really added a little sweetness to the curry sauce. I was a little concerned about this, as quite often when people attempt a cuisine not their own they fail miserably, however in this case it was very nice, I even enjoyed the spinach! Next up the meat course, crispy skinned chicken thigh, on three oxtail ravoili with wild mushrooms in a redwine jus, seriously very very nice.

Didn't have a dessert or coffee, as to be honest I didn't have room, however I am very glad that I did drag myself out as it was a very nice meal.

London Day 2

Awoke at four again :-( And generally hung around until about seven when I had a too warm bath, which was actually very nice, and then to breakfast, ah there is nothing like a free breakfast! Loads of fruit and a bagel with cheese, reading the paper, there are a couple of stories that I am finding interesting at the moment, one on if fascist parents (the authorities version) should be allowed to keep their children although they appear to have been indoctrinating them (a very difficult one, if it sets a precedent then who starts to decide what the acceptable beliefs are?) and one on workers being sacked for belonging to the wrong political party (PEI, quite interesting on the patronage front).

And then I started walking round London, ambled through a shopping centre (btw where on earth do Canadians buy computer games? In the UK you cannot throw a stone on any high street, except Egham of course, without hitting a computer games shop, yet in Canada I have spotted not one), purchased some postcards and stamps and ambled on, arriving at Covent Garden Market! Actually I really liked it, a lot nicer than the one in, erm, my normal London, loads of small stalls selling all sorts of things (although mainly food related), wrote my postcards over a cup of coffee, and then started ambling again aiming for the London museum, however I turned the wrong way, spent a lot of time walking through a very tired looking area of town until I got myself reorientated, then set off towards the museum again, by this stage it was getting towards lunch time, so I popped into a restaurant called "The Tasting Room" where they do various "flights" of four glasses of 2oz of wine and appetisers as well as normal(ish) fare. Strangely for a wine bar in Canada they didn't do Canadian wine at all! So I had a glass of an American wine which was described as dry, but was a little sweet for me, and a beef and cheese melt, which was chilli in a roll with a bit of cheese on top.

Having enjoyed that I oriented myself and walked up to Victoria Park and had a bit of a sit down, and watched the black squirrels frolicking around, then it started to rain, so I started rushing along Dufferin avenue to get to the museum quickly, after a mile or so I was getting confused (and very wet) then Dufferin ended, so I turned up the road, in what I thought was the correct direction, now I had drunk two cups of coffee for breakfast, and another one whilst I was writing the postcards, and (as I should remember, particularly after running around Boston) coffee is a diuretic so I was busting for the loo. Eventually I found a not too bad looking bar and popped in where I had a pint of beer, extracted the micus, and tried to work out where the heck I was with no joy, the barmaid then pointed me out on the map. I had gone completely the wrong way when the rain started, so I had walked for about an hour in the pissing rain in the wrong direction.

So instead I went to "The Royal Canadian Regiment Museum" which was interesting, when I came out the day had turned nice again lovely and sunny, however by now it was about half past three and I had been walking almost all day, so I walked back to the hotel, I was supposed to go by "The Eldon House" some chappie who did something for Insulin, however despite the fact that it has a flame outside that will not be allowed to go out until diabetes has been cured (well Sharons was cured, but I think that transplants are a bit far as a general cure) I didn't see it. Again I passed through a very tired area of town, a lot of boarded up houses, and all the shops had metal grilles across the windows, well those windows that weren't boarded up anyway. However eventually I ended up at the hotel, my first bit of correct navigation of the day!

Back to the room to lie down for a bit, then down to the bar to watch the last two minutes of the Champions league final and enjoy a martini, then up to the clubroom for snacks, I have real trouble resisting sausage rolls! Although I resisted the free drink temptation. Thence to the managers reception, more sausage rolls, and a couple of glasses of Canadian wine! A bit of a chat with the manager and various members of the team, and now to bed. No supper tonight as I have canape'd myself out!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

London Day 1 (no not that London, another one)

Awoke early again, 04:30, popped out for a crafty cigarette, and on my return packed, then I managed to fall asleep again for another couple of hours! I feel more rested now than I have done.

Really fancied eggs Benedict for breakfast (my best freebie ever was when I was staying at the Hilton in Boston, and had free eggs Benedict for breakfast every day!) however the hotel didn't do them and I couldn't find anywhere particularly local that did, so I forwent that pleasure, which is probably no bad thing. I hung around the hotel until about 10 and then caught a taxi to the main train station, I was expecting something like one of the big London stations with shops, cafes and restaurants, and was surprised that it was very much a functional building with just one fast food emporium and a couple of shops selling prepared food. So I went into Harveys, a very formicalike place and had a cup of coffee, which was actually very nice, I was tempted to poutine, however I think that would be a little too much for breakfast.

Arrived at my gate about fifty minutes before the train was due to depart as there is a half hour boarding time, and hung around for about a quarter of an hour in the queue then some chappie came along to write on the tickets (not sure why) and he told me to go to the "first class lounge" as there would be 10-15 minutes before we boarded. I acquired an orange juice and sat back with the Toronto Star, only to have my train called a couple of minutes later! Ambled up onto the platform and on to the train, seating was not bad, a window seat which was nice, however I think they need a lesson from the European trains on placing the tables, for some reason it was in the armrest, and not pulldownable from the seat in front, which is a lot more user friendly.

Oh I was reading "The Grand Tour" by Wrede and Stevermer, not as good as "The Enchanted Chocolate Pot" but still very enjoyable, I finished Wake yesterday, overall I enjoyed it, but I would have liked a little more depth on the characters, I didn't feel that I knew Caleb or Janie that well at the end, let alone the other characters. However I am still really looking forward to reading Fade when I get home.

So the train set off it was interesting, I was sort of expecting wild countryside and sweeping plains, but of course it is only a small journey in the scheme of things, so instead the scenery was either forested in a not wild sort of way, rolling like the west country back home, or, and it seemed mainly, towns and industry. Of course it is like this Canada is a real country, not some 1850's theme park for me to enjoy with my modern amenities, although if I did ever make it to Edmonton I suppose I could be proved wrong (winks at Quertypie).

But why am I worried about the table on the train I hear you ask, well I was planning on rat-tat-tatting this away as I was thundering through the countryside with the train pushing cows off the track every ten minutes, however they wanted to charge me for that, so I decided I would do it later. However as I was travelling first class I got a "free" meal. The menu was a bit like than on an aeroplane, starter and dessert set and a choice of main (why do Americans, damn I'm not sure about Canadians, Why do Statsians call main courses entrees when the word obviously means the entry or start of a meal?) The starter was a "Neptune" salad (crabstick in a marie rose sauce) served with English cucumber (I don't know I've never heard of English cucumber, the stewardess wasn't sure either) followed by either pasta, fish, or chicken, I ordered chicken and regretted it almost immediately chicken breast goes so dry when it is overcooked, however it was gorgeous, I think it may have been reconstituted, but I don't care because it tasted so nice, and a Maple, Walnut, Apple, Spice, cake (how many ingredients can you fit in one dish) which I didn't eat. Along with this I drank some Ontario white wine, which is also most palatable.

Arrived in London, which is a little smaller than its namesake! And walked down to the hotel, ah it felt good to be in a nice hotel again, checked in, and didn't get upgraded :-( ah the hazards of being downgraded to gold, although I am allowed in the club room, which has a two drink rule! There would have been riots in Rotterdamn if they had tried that! Anyway I only felt like one glass of wine, and then ordered room service, PRE mussels (waves at MCM) which were very good indeed, although I could have done with some bread on the side. It is just luxurious to be in an hotel room where I can smoke though.

Tomorrow the Labatts brewery tour (if I can arrange that) and the Eldon house, as well as a happy walk round town, I was thinking of catching the train to Windsor they day afterwards, however it appears that this may take longer than I would care to take, so probably not, although I am still thinking of going to Kingston next week, not sure if I want to do a day trip or stay a night there though.

Yawn, time for bobblies.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Toronto Day 3

Sleep still not going quite right, fell asleep at about tennish last night, and was up at about four again, still I am not feeling that tired, so it cannot be too bad. Had a Wendys salad last night, it was quite pleasant.

Anyway up this morning, a lovely bath (why are North American baths in hotels so shallow?), shaved, and tarted myself up in all my finery, packed far too many books in my rucksack, and set off into Toronto. Walked down Yonge to Dundas and realised that it was going to be a lovely day again, so put my jacket in the rucksack as well, popped in to the Eaton centre where I had two "breakfast burritos" from McDonalds which were not unpleasant, but I honestly couldn't tell you what was in them, and read the paper. The Globe and Mail really impressed me, not that many stories, but global coverage and quite in depth.

Then ambled round the centre a bit more and popped into Indigo, a bookshop, to purchase a notebook, as I had forgotten to bring one with me, and a couple of books, one of which was Wake by Wheezy! Thence to the Hudson Bay shop, which seemed to think it was all that, but failed to impress me at all, I'm guessing that they employ the makeup and perfume girls for their looks, as I was the only person around trying to buy moisturiser and they couldn't be bothered to serve me at all.

So then walked down Queen Street to Osgoode and had a very nice cup of coffee opposite Much Music and sauntered down to the restaurant where I met BYoffer (well he is known for taking peoples MOPS virginity) and were joined almost immediately by MaroonClown and Bullzeye, I had been a bit concerned about meeting up with people a bit nervous of how I appeared to them, and that they might be somewhat stranger than normal, however I felt quite relaxed in their company, I don't tend to really chat until I know people somewhat better but the conversation felt normal to me, albeit normal for a group of people who have sort of known each other for quite a while, but sort of have another way of knowing each other, dash it I am explaining this badly, it felt comfortable, yet more in depth than I had expected, very much play, always leaping from one topic to another. Really glad that I was able to meet these lovely people.

The meal itself was interesting, dumplings with beef and dumplings with veg, strangely they seemed to have grilled these, whereas I have only had ho fun steamed or boiled before, and I have to say I really prefer it that way, the curry was a little 80's but very pleasant, the noodles were OK, and the rice was really very nice. Sadly my traditional Tibetan rolls did not make an appearance until the meal was nearly finished.

After chatting and eating for what seemed like about five minutes an hour and an half had passed and everyone had to go back to work, and I walked up University Avenue to the ROM, which is a very nice, and I like the extension although I know that opinion is divided on this. After a very nice walk round, there is a fair amount of interesting Bronze age Aegean stuff which really does interest me, the bat cave was interesting, although I think I have done too much Disney as I was expecting some "bat flies past you" effect! And the dinosaurs were interesting, particularly the comparisons with modern day animals.

Then the tube back to the hotel and a Timmies! Off to London tomorrow, so I may be writing on the train, MC tells me the train is very nice so I am really looking forward to it, even if there is nothing to do in London!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Toronto Day 2

Body clock adjusting, but not quite there yet, awoke at 04:30 still very tired, but obviously not going back to sleep again, now something that I didn't mention yesterday is that I came over without a plug adaptor, foolish I know, however Canadians like Statsians? seem to believe that not having an earth is good for the soul. So there am I with a need to be surrounded by sound without the ability to make it for more than two nights (thanks to the two walkmans that I bought with me).

So got up washed and brushed and nipped outside for a fag, on the way asking the reception desk if they had an adaptor I could borrow, yesterday this produced a "huh?" as if the idea of a different plug style were incomprehensible, today it produced a "no", now this is a big hotel, I would bet money that some Brit had been here and left their adaptor behind, and I would put more money on the fact that the hotel hadn't sent it back to them, I know I have been that idiot in more than one hotel in my time. Anyway it was suggested that I pop to "Shoppers drug mart" who may be able to assist. I asked the chappie when they would be opening and suggested a time of ten am what with it being Sunday, he aquiessed with this suggestion, however when I went for a walk (for something to do) I discovered that they were 24/7, and also looked at me as if I were insane.

I did however learn that if I had turned left instead of right I would have discovered a much nicer area of Toronto than I did last night.

Eventually I went back to the hotel to try their breakfast as Wendy's wasn't open and I didn't fancy Mickey D's. Now I have a rule that the bigger the hotel the crapper the breakfast, The Westin in Berlin proves that I am not always right, best breakfast I have ever seen, however in this case the hotel lived up to the rule. If there is one thing that Canada is famous for it has to be Canadian bacon, if I were Canadian I would have renounced my citizenship over what they served up, I was damn tempted to renounce my English heritage over the abomination they called an English muffin. I cannot tell you what the eggs were like as they "were not serving" eggs when I was there. Thinking back the Marriott in Paris was equally bad at breakfast, go to a fast food place at a tube station, and pay 90 cents for a fantastic croissant, pay 16 euro at a top hotel, and get something that is just terrible, it couldn't even in conscience be called a croissant. To sum up if you are ever at the hotel I am staying at in Toronto DO NOT eat breakfast there.

After that disappointment (and brekkers is my favourite meal of the day) I did a little more ambling, arrived back to the hotel to book a "tour of the city". When the chappie finally deigned to turn up he told us that this was the first time he had done this route with paying customers, and that he had only done it once as a practice. So what can I tell you about Toronto now? Well from what he told me Americans are all bastards, the British are worse and that it gets cold in the winters. I could almost tell you chapter and verse of his life, his wifes life, his father in laws medical conditions, his children (he made sure that we saw the colleges they went to), his grandchild (and his taking her to see Dora the Explorer), and not a sodding thing about the city itself. Normally I book myself on the double decker bus tour (or trolley car tour in Boston) because one can get on and off as one wishes, if one gets a duff driver there will be another one along, and you get a view so there I am in a minibus and he says look up to the left, well I have no f***ing chance of doing that because the structure of the B***dy van is in the way. Biggest waste of twenty five quid in my life (including taking whatshername to Ritzys in Kingston).

About oneish the "tour" finished, and I managed to get dropped off at the Eaton centre, walked through the door, and was enraptured by a fountain of water. On the level below the one I was on there was a medium sized fountain, and every now and again it shot a geyser of water about twenty foot in the air, it was gloriously beautiful. I then started to walk around the centre, which is most impressive, so many shops, so much to see, I didn't even manage to find the Canada Geese! Went to the food court and had a bubble tea (yum) and a portion of poutine from New York fries (huh?) which was not at all bad for a fast food place, I will be trying it again certainly. Then a watermelon something from a smoothy bar which was very nice sort of wish I had ordered the small portion though as the standard one was on the American model (24 fl oz).

Popped into the Sony shop to ask them if I could buy a Canadian plug for my lappie, they were happy to order one for me, but as I am leaving for London on Tuesday that didn't seem like an ideal situation, then I found an electrical shop, and they had a multi to/multi from adaptor :-) Thus I am able to write a rather longwinded and no doubt dull travelogue, bet no-one reads this far though.

Then up to Dundas Square which seemed lovely, more fountains which were very pleasant, but didn't geyser. Remembering what Kim told me I decided to try a terrace bar, and so took the tube to Bloor (yes Kim had told me to go to Bay) and walked around looking at the posh shops, and eventually ended up in Hemmingways, well after my lunch I wasn't actually hungry, although I know I will regret not having eaten the Eggs Benedict, so I just had a couple (OK three) of pints, Imperial pints too! Then I walked down the road a little to Sassafraz, where I had a "Brazilian Raspberry" cocktail, and a Caiprinha, I can see why Danya prefers them to Martgueritas, however to my taste a plain Martguerita just tips the balance, and also I decided to try some cheeses, about which they seemed very proud. My only negative point of the afternoon is that if they were in France the person who looks after the cheese would have been fired. I was served CaBrie la Buche, it would have been a good take on Brie if a) It had been left to mature for another couple of days, and b) if they had taken it out of the fridge more than two minutes before they served it to me. Noyan, which is that sort of not soft soft-cheese (think St. Paulin) which was pleasant, and Comfort Cream, which came up as a thin round thing still crumbly in the middle, I didn't hold out much hope... But it knocked my socks off, this was one of the five best cheeses I have ever had, I am so tempted to go back there just to keep ordering it.

Then ambled round a bit more, looked in the ROM shop, it was about a quarter of an hour to museum closing time, so I saved the ROM for tomorrow. Sauntered a little more and caught the tube to College popped into a Timmies where I ordered a double double, and some TimBits (5 cherry and 5 apple) very nice, the apple don't quite live up to the Dutch ones (Waves at DF) however that could be because the Dutch ones are served warm.

I think that is enough for one day! Supper will be a light affair, possibly fast. The plan for manana is to get up a little later, amble down Yonge to Queens (OK probably half of it in the Eaton Centre) then up Queen to Osgoode and lunch with some interesting people, then a little window shopping and a trip to the ROM, but I don't get to use the "Are you Frisky?" line :-( .

Toronto Day 1

What a day!

I awoke at 04:30 UK time, and couldn't get back to sleep, so I was quite tired when I headed off for the airport at 10:45. I arrived at the check in desk to be told that I had been downgraded, this was somewhat irritating as I really need the extra space, the only concession that I got was that they would refund me the extra cost for club. Well as I could have flown with BA and got miles for cheaper than their economy I wasn't that chuffed with that, still the flight was OK, it was only eight hours, however it seemed very long, but I suppose you have to expect that.

So having passed through customs and immigration I got a taxi into town, what is the point of a $49 fare? Should I just have given the chap $50? Checked into the (non-smoking :-( ) hotel not that flash a room, however it is perfectly acceptable. Then thought about going to Hemmingways for a quick bite, but I am not really geographically aware yet, so gave up and went for sushi just near the hotel. Had soft shelled crab (which tasted a lot like soft roe), and a selection of sushi, although there wasn't much rice, which I think sushi really needs. They tried to shortchange me $10 but as a tourist I am on the lookout for that!

Back to the hotel, a bath, and an early nights sleep.

Friday, 15 May 2009


Well, it's been a long week at work. However my project finally got approval, a few tweaks and :-)

It's cool to see Pepes great-great-uncle on a note. Made me think of my note collection, I think my favourite notes are still the Romanian ones, plastic with a see through bit most cool.

It also reminded me of the trick you used to be able to do with a tenner and a fiver, you could use the Queens heads to make a picture of John McEnroe.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Little thoughts

1) If there is a cycle path please use it.

2) Why is every shop pushing Tom Yam soup at the moment?

3) A Bananana for breakfast and Slimefast for lunch this week.

4) Very busy week at work coming up.

5) My first gray nose hair, very strange.

6) And a very tired bunny at the moment

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Curry and Canada

Firstly thanks to Pepe, I think the car hire may be easier now, and I am really looking forward to meeting you.

One of my fiends (probably my best friend, not that we catch up that often) has recently become engaged to a delightful young lady who lived in Toronto for eighteen years, in fact she loved it so much they are getting married there once I am safely out of the country.

I went out with them last night, a) to congratulate them on the engagement, b) to celebrate my fiends birthday, c) to catch up, d) to have an enjoyable evening, and e) to pump Kim for what to do in Toronto. I managed all five!

So... Patios sound like an enjoyable way to spend some time, I will defo be visiting the Indigo in an old cinema, I have a park to go to, I think I understand the tube system, I will go round on the tourist bus for the first day or so and the zoo sounds good (if a little confusing to get to). I'm really getting excited about this trip, although I am now down to Hilton Gold, so things at the hotels may not be as six star as they have been on previous holidays!

To get to Abduls place involves a trip on two motorways, somehow I got caught in the wrong lane to get off the first one, so had to drive a long way to the next junction to turn around!

Anyway I arrived we had a bit of a chat (Well Kim and I did) and went out for a ruby to a restaurant just up the road that has (had?) a very good reputation, walked through the door and noticed that the tables were very close together, and that most of them were taken, a good sign I thought, it was also very warm. We sat down at our table which was just by the door, a good thing for me as I received a blast of cool air when the door was opened which was most welcome.

We ordered our drinks and some poppadoms, the mint sauce was a strange orange colour but tasted fine. Amongst the beer and wine we also ordered a jug of tap water, sadly we had neglected to ask for glasses, so we had to sit and look at it until the waiter finally turned up to take our order.

A and K are not big on spicy so they started with prawn cocktail, about which they spoke fondly, what arrived, well, it looked, nasty is I think the best word, and apparently it tasted much the same however having parents who grew up during the war they ate the prawns and left the "salad" and disgusting looking white sauce.

The waiting was a bit lackadasical so we had a great chat, the engagement story was very romantic *sigh* and I got to see the chap at the next table pour a chicken tikka masala on a portion of chips which I had heard of but never seen before.

Unfortunately at this point the heat proved too much for Kim (probably assisted by the salad) whilst she felt fine outside when she came back in she felt nauseous and she had to walk back. Being the gentlemen that we are we told her we would see her later.

Thence to the main courses, now three between the two of us! Mine was OK King prawn dhansak, not very hot, but OK, the sag paneer on the other hand was most displeasing, everywhere else I have had it there are pieces of curd cheese in it, there was cheddar in this one, and believe me it doesn't really work.

So the meal wasn't great, not bad, but not great. Then we went back to Abduls where Kim was feeling recovered and enjoyed the bit of butter chicken that Abdul had left her (It has almonds in it, so I take no responsibility for the missing chicken ;-) )and Kim and I chatted more about Toronto.

A nice easy drive home, and I had a wonderful evening.