This is the final post of my Uncle Les and now Aunt Jennifer’s wedding long weekend trip to Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, at the end of August. It should’ve been done about a week or two after getting home, but as my husband says I was too busy living my life rather than writing about it. And besides, I’ve got another trip to Canada to write about, where I did plenty of eating therefore running!
Day 3 of the trip was a Sunday. It was spent cleaning up after the wedding, then going to a fantastic brunch at Lennifer’s friend’s beautiful new condo in Burlington, Ontario. But first, miss Natasha, the cat that lived at our accommodation. We were told we would never see her because she’s shy, but we saw her all the time!
Brunch was amazing! The spread of food just called for over consumption, as everything was homemade and fresh. There were two types of cold soups (celery and spicy gazpacho – I went for spicy!), three quiches (one with filo pastry!), two salads (spinach with strawberries and almonds, and a standard lettuce, cucumber, tomato salad), and plenty of fruit, chocolate and pastries to nibble on. It was a spread I was accustomed to living in Canada; not to discount Scottish spreads, they’re just different.
|I had two pieces!|
The afternoon was spent chatting with new friends and eating delicious food. I think the newly married Lennifer enjoyed it, although they were tied from the weekend’s festivities. I could feel their pain, as just over a year ago, my husband and I were that newly married, tired and ecstatic couple.
|I love these two|
|And I love this food|
The rest of the day was spent resting and napping, then my dad and I headed down Locke Street again to Chuck’s Burger Bar. It was a tiny restaurant that specialised in all sorts of original and delicious burgers and poutines; for you non-Canadians out there, poutine is a sinful dish originally from Quebec (hence the French sound to the name), the is French fries with cheese curds and gravy over top. When you think of Canadian fast food, this is it. There are even restaurants now devoted to making different types of poutine. Do I like it? No, (I don’t like gravy).
The menu at Chuck’s was interesting: it featured typical burger and side (fries, onion rings, salad, etc) meals, or you could make your own burger, choosing from a variety of meat patties (Angus beef, bison, lamb, venison, chicken or bacon…. yes bacon), then from over fifty toppings and sauces. I chose Angus beef (Scottish connection!), with cucumber, lettuce, tomato and garlic mayo. My dad chose the platter of three sliders: a pulled pork burger, a turkey burger, and I’m not sure of the other. We also had a salad and onions rings.
For someone who is a burger lover, this place could’ve been my heaven. But it wasn’t. The staff was all very young, early to mid 20’s, and they gave off a feel of I’m doing you a favour by speaking to you and I don’t have much time for you. This was most apparent when you would ask them a question and they would look beyond you. This is epitomised on the About Chuck’s page of their website. It was because of this mentality that the atmosphere just didn’t feel right, and we didn’t feel welcome in the restaurant the way we had been all weekend at Sarcoa and The Bread Bar. The other reason this wasn’t my kind of heaven was that my burger was cooked to medium! Normally, you can’t do this, but since the burger was 100% ground chuck, it was okay. I requested my burger to be well done, and it wasn’t even close. Although the toppings I chose were delicious, I couldn’t shake that taste of blood from my burger, no matter where I bit and how much ketchup I used. I finally gave up, and left the burger half eaten. And of course, it was of no concern to the staff. My dad also was disappointed with the service and feel of the place, and it was decided that we wouldn’t go back. Good thing we don’t live in Hamilton.
|Wish it tasted as good as it looked|
Day 4 of the trip was spent traveling by bus into Toronto, dragging our suitcases through Union Station and downtown to the Royal Ontario Museum, to meet up with my cousin Alexa who would take us back to her place in the suburbs for a visit with her, my Aunt Maureen and my other cousin Cami. And their cats Max and Ebony. We had a delicious meal of Greek Style chicken with fresh produce from the market, deeeelicious! We then visited for a while, looking at Cami’s incredible art portfolio (she’s so talented!), before heading to the airport to drop off my dad for his flight home to Winnipeg.
|The very friendly and laid back Max|
|Cute Miss Ebony who kept drinking my water!|
My last day in Canada (flair for the dramatic) was spent with Maureen and Cami in Toronto. We went to the Beaches, a neighbourhood on the shore of Lake Ontario with beautiful houses, great restaurants, and interesting stores. We strolled along the beach for a while, and on such a hot day (34’C I think?), it was so tempting to jump in the water. We also saw a few people out on Stand-Up and Paddle Boards, I was so jealous! It was nice to catch up with Maureen and Cami as I hadn’t seen them since my wedding over a year ago, and before that, who knows how long it had been. We went for Thai for lunch, then headed back to their house for dinner before it was time to go to the airpot. It was a very relaxing and laid back visit, and perfect conclusion to my visit ‘home’.
|Mother and daughter|
It had been two years since my last visit home, and there were some new things I now noticed as not having been in Canada for so long. The entire trip, I wondered whether the accents I heard all around me were truly in fact American-sounding, or was that just a Southern Ontario thing? Did they just sound that way to me because I hadn’t been totally surrounded by Canadian accents for a while? And now, since visiting Winnipeg these last two weeks, I can say it is a Southern Ontario thing because people don’t sound like that in Winnipeg.
Another thing I found hard to grasp was the fact that I was now referring to Scotland as my home, even though when I’m in Scotland, Canada is my home. I also had to make a conscious effort to use Canadian English, whereas here in Scotland, I find I have to put in a conscious to use British English. This whole idea of adapting to your surroundings but still holding on to home was hard to shake off, and what I found more disconcerting was the fact that although I feel like a constant visitor in Scotland, I was now referring to it as my home. As my friend Janice said ‘Now that your heart is in two places, ‘home’ is more of a complex concept’…. totally! I wish there was a way my two homes could be rolled into one, but alas, they can’t.
On the brighter side of expat life, I brought home some Canadian treats!!!!!!
Top row: Gerwurztraminer wine from the Okanagan Valley from my friend Adrienne (who left it at an airport storage place on her layover for me to pick up), Starbucks Vanilla syrup (1 Litre for $10 compared to 375 mL for £3.75 here), Crown Royal rye whisky for my husband and relish for my burgers!
Middle row: Crispy Minis popcorn flavoured rice cakes, maple syrup for a colleague, Crystal Light juice crystals, Trident Layers gum, Ranch dressing, Icewine and maple syrup baked beans, my favourite!
Bottom row: Peanut Butter Nature Valley granola bars (you can’t get that flavour here in Scotland), vanilla flavoured instant Starbucks coffee, Coffee Crisps and Peanut Butter M&M’s (again for a colleague).
When I finally arrived back in Scotland after a six hour plane journey to Glasgow, two and half hour train ride home, and a 12 hour sleep that night, the first thing I had was the best version of eggs and beans on toast ever!
|I heart you|
Next up: Photo challenge posts and a whole bunch of Winnipeg family stuff and restaurant reviews! Hope you all have a great weekend!