travel

Permanent Residency

22042014

In the spring of 2009, my then boyfriend and I spent our very first month apart. I was working in a theatre in the city and he was touring to Canada with a different theatre company. After several long weeks, I was reunited with him, very late at night at Euston Station. He had landed hours earlier and was due to jump on a train for another job. We had 45 minutes to catch up before he was away again. Those 45 minutes marked the start of two journeys: a short overnight sleeper to Edinburgh and a 4.5 year journey to Canada. In that short hour, I will never forget his enthusiasm or passion for the city. He just kept saying over and over ‘we have to move there. You would love it so much. We need to go’ and so that was that. Some reading, some prepping and some impulse decisions and our application for Canadian permanent residency was in the post.

At the time we applied, the processing time on our route was at the 12-18 month mark but if you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that this was far from the case. My now-husband and I have spent a large proportion of our 20′s battling to get our file looked at. In 2011 we drove 10,000km in the name of research, in 2011 we married and moved temporarily to Toronto where we tried everything in our power to stay. In 2012 we admitted defeat and returned home. In 2013 we almost called it quits when we had to jump through more ridiculous hoops but here we are in 2014, 54 months after we first came up with this crazy plan and we have confirmation of our permanent residency in our hands.

There was no real ecstatic jumping up and down; more a quiet drink and then an air of calm has filled our home. This move has dictated so much of our lives together and I think it will take a while for it to sink in that we can go, live where we want, work where we choose and stay. Our priorities are much more complicated these days and no doubt the move has been made more challenging now that our son is in our lives. But rather than be daunted we remain positive and excited. It was never about comparing the pros and cons of the two countries but rather wanting to move to a continent and in particular a city that we feel comfortable and connected to. We think we can offer our children a happy, comfortable and exciting childhood there. I am thrilled that Forrest’s first snow is likely to be in the midst of the Canadian winter.

So that is that. 45 minutes turned into 54 months but finally there will be no more moaning about visas on this blog. Thanks for following along with this particular journey and prepare yourself for lots of Toronto spam and cold looking Wolves in the fall. Toronto, we are coming at ya!

 

 

 

up to the mountains, down to the shore

14042014

I’m back after a little break from the internet and a very impromptu family vacation. A bit of extra holiday time and some ridiculously cheap off-season deals meant that we went to Portugal for a few days. We were looking forward to a whole lot of sun but we arrived and were greeted with three solid days of torrential rains and thunder! However, we took it in our stride, adapted our plans and made the most of it. We drove around the countryside, exploring rural Portugal and seeking out coffee and pizza in every port. These pictures were taken on the day we decided for no good to drive up to the top of the highest peak in the south. The view was completely non existent but we were greeted by some very friendly cafe owners who probably through we were mad but did make us an excellent cup of tea. Forrest was non the wiser and enjoyed waiting out the storm in the front seat.

portugalrain1rainportugal3rainportugal2

The second half of our trip was your much more classic cheap and cheerful beach holiday. We made sandcastles, did some splashing, dug a big hole for the baby to sit in- all that good stuff.

portugal12 portugal11 portugal10 portugal9 portugal8 portugal7 portugal6 portugal5 portugal4 portugal3 portugal2 portugal1

As you can probably tell Forrest had such a wonderful time. It was so special to see him experiencing the beach properly for the first time and actually enjoying unlike the other attempts (such as here & here) He’s been decidedly grumpy since we got home so I think that is proof enough that he thoroughly enjoyed himself. This morning I caught him trying to make a sandcastle with his bucket and bricks. We are stuggling to get through the mornings without shots of expresso and a dozen pastel de nata.

Berlin: Part Two

18012014

berlin2-06berlin2-21After seeing the more historical sites on the first day of our trip, we used our last two days to spend time with my brother and getting to know his favourite parts of the city. I have not seen a lot of my brother over the last few years as both of us have been abroad a fair amount and so it was really lovely to hang out with him and for Forrest to get to know him a little better.

berlin2022 berlin2-09 berlin2-08 berlin2-07

We started off the day with coffee and a walk along the East Side Gallery on Mühlenstraße. The gallery is a long open-air art gallery, on stretch of what is left of the Berlin Wall. There are so few parts of the wall left so this is well worth a visit.berlin2-18

You might notice that we did not take our pushchair on this trip. It was a good experiment but probably not one I would repeat in a hurry. Even with my brother and Billy doing the fair share of the carrying if was pretty tough going. I have never really found a baby carrier which I feel can comfortably handle Forrest’s weight. Most brands will claim that their products can be used until toddlerhood but in reality, carrying Forrest for even 15 mins can be pretty difficult. I am sure this option would be brilliant if you had a smaller/younger baby as, although it was physically tough, it did mean we didn’t need to worry about taking pushchairs into smaller boutiques and cafes during the trip. This flexibility was really welcome and allowed us to be a bit more ambitious with our exploring even if it was at the expense of our backs.

berlin2-04 berlin2-03Again we hunted down some excellent coffee. I had read about Bonanza Coffee ages ago and it was on that list of places you would like to go to but probably never will. By luck whilst exploring the east of the city we stumbled upon it and as expected, the coffee was second to none. I have only had it matched by the Merchants of Green in Toronto which still remains my favourite coffee shop of all time.

Also by chance we stumbled across the illusive cronut!  No wait list involved. It may have been in the German equivalent of Greggs and it probably wasn’t a patch on Dominique Ansel’s but it was pretty brilliant.

berlin2-14 berlin2-16

The face of the baby eating a cronut.

berlin2-13 berlin2-12 berlin2-11berlin2-02 berlin2-01 copy berlin2-17

We let Forrest let off a bit of steam in the park before catching our flight. He was actually pretty amazing on the plane so we had nothing to complain about on that front but by the end of day three, he was getting a little tired of the carrier which was fair enough. Berlin is full of lovely children’s parks and kindercafes and is generally pretty baby friendly.

Traveling for the first time with a baby was an eye opener in many ways. It was challenging in ways I did not expect. The practicalities such as flights and finding food where all very straightforward. Timing lunch and naps in a foreign city were a bit more of a challenge. When your only in a city for a short period of time, it is easy to try and do too much and  forget that probably all your baby wants to do is go on the swings and eat cronuts. Over the last few years Billy and I have learnt to really slow down our pace with travelling. We used to try and cram in as much as we could in the time that we had but as we have got older and more experienced we prioritise the quality of the experiences we have over the amount at we see. That ethos seems to suit us and now Forrest really well. I look forward to taking him away for longer next time, and hopefully further afield to see how we all get on.

Berlin: part one

12012014

My brother has been living in Berlin for the last few years and this week I finally got the opportunity to go out and visit him. Every Christmas for the last few years, Billy and I have had a no presents rule in place. We have always been saving for something or traveling somewhere and so a mass of presents always seems like an unnecessary extravagance when there are much better necessities or experiences out there to be had. This year was supposed to be the same. We bought Forrest a couple of things but decided not to buy each other large gifts. I stuck to my end of the bargain and bought my husband a rather lovely but simple hat (the great wife that I am). He on the other hand did not follow the rules. He bought me a plane ticket. Yes, a plane ticket. Kinda blows my hat out of the water doesn’t it? So we have been tramping around Berlin for the last few days. Husband off work, baby in tow, coffee in hand, cake on every corner; it’s pretty much the best gift I have ever been given. Here is some of what we got up to.

Berlin1
berlin2
berlin3

The would-be Canadian in me forces me to buy a donut whenever I see one.

berlin4

Thanks to a good recommendation, we started our first day at The Barn on Auguststrasse. They were very sweet and accommodating of us and our kiddo despite it being very small and very busy. We dashed in just in time to escape the rain and enjoyed flat whites and carrot cake for breakfast. Berlin coffee houses have some of the best and most complex coffee I have ever tasted. If you are ever in Berlin , I thoroughly recommend checking this place out. The surrounding area is also particularly nice with lots of unique little shops and quirky streets.

berlin5
berlin6
berlin8
berlin9

We then headed down to the more popular tourist sites in town to check out the Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag and the Jewish Memorial. Although sadly not captured on film, we did manage to add Hitler’s bunker to list of weird placed to have changed a nappy. Sadly Forrest reached the end of his patience after this point so we left the Jewish museum quickly before he got too cross and just had time to have a quick walk around the outdoor memorial. It is definitely something I would love to go back a do properly at some point, maybe when Forrest is a little older.

berlin10
berlin7
berlin12
berlin11
berlin13berlin111

Just as the sun started to go down, having now cheered the baby up by feeding it sausages, we met up with my brother to climb up to the top of the Reichstag building. This is free to do but you have to book in advance. We were lucky and managed to get a sunset slot. The views from the top were really fantastic and Forrest very much enjoyed crawling around the winding stairs.

berlin20
berlin19
berlin22 berlin17
berlin18 berlin16
berlin21
berlin29
berlin26

We actually succeeded in getting a picture of all three of us for once thanks to my brother. Next stop- one where we are all looking in vaguely the same direction!

berlin28berlin30berlin24berlin25berlin23berlin27

I’ve broken our photos into two different posts as I just took way to many that I loved. For some reason when I go abroad, the light always seems so much better. Why is that!? Anyway, I will be back later in the week with part to and a little bit about our experience of traveling with a ten month old. (Thanks to everyone who offered their tips on twitter - all brilliant and helpful)

 

A holiday on the coast

02102013

After the stress of moving house, the very next day we hopped in a rental and drove up north to the coast to spend a few days caravanning and taking in the last of the summer. It was our first holiday with Forrest and our first real break since Iceland, way back in 2012. We didn’t have much on our agenda except swimming, cooking (which we have not been able to do for the last six weeks) and explore the local seaside. If there was a theme of this holiday it was (mainly) stormy weather and hot seaside cinnamon donuts. We ate so many of those delicious things whilst tramping around rainy beaches. Aside from two teeth deciding to pick there moment and arrive, it was such a wonderful time of doing very little except appreciating one another and the rare moments we get to spend together. 

There is nothing better than waking up to play with my tiny wild one



Or spending my days on a freezing beach with these two.



We may have also used this holiday to teach Forrest about the joys of gambling (he won a slinky)

and how to play in laundry bags. Oh and we are clearly a family that wears a lot of stripes it seems. I’ve got a few more to come when I get two seconds in between unpacking and running round after a near crawling baby. 


Theme by Blogmilk + Coded by Brandi Bernoskie