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2011 The Nightingale's Oddessy Our exchange year in Canada.

Our 1 year Anniversary

CANADA | Sunday, 25 December 2011 | Views [558]

Our 1 Year Anniversary

Well who would have thought it, here I am writing what will probably be my penultimate blog from Canada, after being here exactly one year and one day. The time has passed so quickly and we have managed to fit so much in. Today is the last day of school for all of us, I am writing this before heading out the door to do my last duty as a Lunch time monitor and I am going to miss it. I have made friends at the school and have got to know many of the kids by first name, even though to many I am still that “British Guy”. It has also given me the unique opportunity to spend a great deal of time with Ryan and Tash and watch them really grow up and interact at school.

Before I wax lyrical about our year, I’ll recap what has happened since last time. Because we are so close to leaving my motivation has been low and hence the blogs have been patchy.  As could be expected it has been a busy period at school for Chelle having to prepare reports and generally sort herself out for leaving... so over the past couple of weeks we have tended to not go out as much. Two weekends ago we did drive up to a small community called St Jacobs. The day was bitterly cold, but still only a light dusting of snow. We had wanted to get to St Jacobs for quite a while, as it is well known for its market and it is in the heart of Mennonite country. The Mennonites, like the Amish, are a religious group originally founded in Europe that were persecuted and forced to leave because their beliefs did not align with those of the Roman Catholic Church. Subsequently, they moved to North America and founded small communities both here and in the USA. Their way of life has lots to commend it. It is based on community and though they don’t all shun technology, many haven’t rushed to embrace it either.  This allows them to “stop and smell the roses” as it mentioned in the short film we saw in the information centre.  Many in the community still get around in horse and carriage and we saw a number of these at the market. Looking back, the only thing we had wished is that we had travelled out to St Jacobs in the summer, as that’s when the markets are at their brightest and busiest, the weather on this day kept many people away.

Last weekend we went North seeking the elusive snow, we had an open invitation from the Fermiers up in Barrie to visit and hopefully go snow tubing, unfortunately the tubing didn’t pan out because of the lack of snow, but we did make up for it with a hike through the nearby woods and a great night spent with friends one last time before we leave. In amongst all this and getting ourselves ready to leave we have managed to get in a couple of hours ice skating down by the Lake, both of the kids are now becoming more confidant and proficient skaters, a little late in the day maybe.

The one constant throughout this period has been the car. Oh how I hate cars!!! (I’m thinking of becoming a Mennonite) Not only have we had the park break cable snap, but a week later the battery warning light came on and even though Chelle got it checked at Canadian Tire (kind of like our KMART Auto, do you get where this is going?...) They ran an electrical test, couldn’t find anything wrong and pronounced it all ok. The light stayed on and I thought it must just be a faulty sensor or loose connection. Two days later bombing along in the fast lane of the QEW in peak hour at 120km p/h the electrics die, fortunately I had just enough warning to get across four lanes of traffic and just as luckily pull straight off in to another Canadian Tire. Again, another set of tests, after they boosted the car to get it going again, nothing wrong!!!! The next day the car was booked in to get the park brake fixed; the mechanic looks at the tests from CT and says the alternator is on its way out. Park brake and new alternator thanks for coming. To top all this off after we had driven up and back to Barrie, I drove the car to a nearby carwash and then a shopping mall. After the car wash, the steering suddenly felt heavy and the temp gauge shot right up to the top. I got the car into the mall and the bonnet up and there is the drive belt hanging off. Luckily, we were only 2 km from home so I very gingerly nursed the car back with constant stops to let the engine cool down. Next day the car had to be towed back to the mechanic and the belt be put back on. The mechanics were at a loss why it happened as nothing seemed to be amiss and the car has run perfectly since

Now reflections on our year in Canada......

The year has been a whirlwind. Who would have thought we would pack in as much as we have. In the course of the year we have amassed some impressive stats:

We’ve driven over 30,000 kms

Visited 3 of the 5 Great Lakes

Been in or touched upon 7 of the 13 Provinces and Territories in Canada

Visited 12 US states

In the 8 weeks of summer holidays we drove through New England and the Canadian Maritimes, followed by a drive through the American Midwest and West Coast then Cruised from Vancouver to Alaska

In between all of this we have made many new friends, Canadian and somewhat surprisingly an even greater number of Australian, who we now consider almost family. We have become immersed in the Canadian culture, some of us have embraced Tim Hortons, others have become Ice Hockey tragics. Natasha now speaks with a Canadian accent and both kids can sing Oh Canada as well as they can sing Advance Australia Fair. Me; I have enjoyed my year of being a house dad and being able to spend more time with the kids. I’ve also found a passion for cooking which I intend to pursue when I get back. Most surprising of all is that I am looking forward to returning to work, this may have something to do with wanting to be with others; though I do enjoy the solitude and my own company, talking to one’s self can become tiresome especially if you don’t like some of the answers you get back.

This may be the end of our sojourn in Canada, but it still isn’t the end of our holiday - stay tuned for updates from Hawaii.


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