Thursday, 28 December 2006

All I Got For Christmas

We have finally bought a car... a Nissan Versa (Tiida) nicknamed "The Berry" because its colour is called "Blueberry."

So our first Boxing Day here is a day to go down in our history... I stayed home and ... Brendon went out on a shopping spree. Now we have the Big Screen TV, along with a home theatre system and DVD player. Did I mention that Brendon was up and out at 5h30 to go shopping? Even I'm not that much of a shopaholic!!! Boxing Day sales here are practically an institution and stores open very early on Boxing Day with many "door crasher" specials.

The mild weather is holding up, and instead of a snowy Christmas, it's been mild and New Year's expected to be wet. I'm not complaining :)

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas !!

Monday, 18 December 2006

Christmas Cheer (or is that Holiday Cheer)

Wow... Christmas fever is in the air.

I saw a most amusing advert the other day, whereby children can send their letters to Santa to
Santa Claus
North Pole
H0H 0H0
And yes, he will reply if you put a return address. Canadian postal codes are of the format letter-number-letter number-letter-number, and the H0H 0H0 postal code has been especially reserved for Santa!

There are even radio stations dedicated to playing Christmas music. Not your traditional Christmas carol-type songs, but stuff like "Have yourself a merry little Christmas", "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer". Being such a diverse and multi-cultural country, everyone is very mindful of the various religious practices, and refer to the "Holidays" instead of "Christmas." In fact, there is a big hoo-ha at the moment regarding an Ontario judge who ordered the removal of a Christmas tree from the courthouse lobby as it may offend non-Christian visitors.

Speaking of trees, we have our very first "live" Christmas tree (it's a pine tree) which we decorated this weekend in my favourite (and of course seasonal) colour of red.

We have also "made" (i.e. put together) a Christmas wreath to hang on our front door, to get in to the Christmas spirit - feeling a bit left out, since most of our neighbours have wreaths up too.

The Canadians really do go all out for Christmas - we took a drive through the neighbourhood last night, and here are some pictures of the Christmas lights to be seen!

Alas, it seems that we will not be having a white Christmas after all. The first light snowfalls on the first of the month have given way to moderate and mild weather, averaging 7C during the day. Even I can say that the weather is pleasant ;) and about the same as a Joburg winter. Today it is 6C, but overcast. The radio presenter this morning said, "That's 6 degrees warmer than it should be this time of year."

For those of you that are wondering, no I did not pass my driver's test... waaah.
So much for hoping for an easier test by selecting an early morning time slot. The highway traffic was moving, but certainly not free flowing and that made it more difficult. I was severely penalised for slowing down on the expressway. [For those of you that have ever driven with me... yes, can you believe it... me driving too slow!] Anyway, apparently this is a traffic violation here - "slowing down on the highway and causing other vehicles behind you to also slow down is dangerous." The point was - I was asked to change lanes (back in to the slow right-hand lane) and the catch-22 was to either slow down to get behind a slower moving vehicle or speed up (i.e. exceed the speed limit) to pass him and then move over. Sigh.

The next earliest available appointment that I could book online was January 16, so I guess I"ll try again then. In the meantime, Brendon (who did pass his test) will just have to be my chauffeur ;)

The Nando's on Eglinton Avenue has now opened for business, and of course we had to go and check it out. It was *really* good, although the "Lemon and Herb" is what I would classify as "Mild" - so put another way, it's like the Fordsburg Nando's ;) So no, there are no kid's meals! I'm just happy that they sell Perinaise (although they call it Peri dip.)

That's all for now... Have a great Christmas long weekend, and I'll hopefully be able to post another update before the new year.

Monday, 4 December 2006

A New Month

December is upon us ... And with it came ...

Vancouver and Western Canada have been snowed under last week - 20-30 cms of snow, power outages, water outages. Toronto and Southern Ontario have been having mild, pleasant weather. And people wondered why we chose Toronto instead of Vancouver... Okay, admittedly that was unusual weather especially for Toronto at this time of the year. What can I say... I whined enough so Someone Up There must have heard me ;) Last week was wonderfully mild in terms of weather, peaking 15C on Thursday, although it was overcast and raining.

However, now Winter Has Arrived, and we are seeing flurries almost every day, and light snow overnight. Temperatures are max -1C. Still not too bad, but with wind chill, it feels about -10C ... so says Me... I think anything below 5C is freezing cold, so now it's just extremes of coldest, even-more-than-coldest and freaking-cold! Gee, I can't wait till February :-D

It snowed on Friday night - nothing heavy, just enough to make everything white and pretty for when we woke up in the morning. It had all melted by noon though.

Looks like I'll be doing my driver's test in the snow at peak hour traffic next week. Not sure how they are going to test my highway on- and off-ramp skills in those conditions! So in terms of this, we have rented a car again, and as luck would have it, we managed to get a Nissan Versa (called the Tiida in SA) for the week! So now we are doing the ultimate test drive. After driving it for three days though, we have pretty much made up our minds that we do like it, and it is high on our list for our first Canadian vehicle purchase.

...My First Tip Slip!
It's different to SA in that we are paid bi-monthly (every two weeks) instead of monthly. So I got that first Canadian payslip last week Thursday... wow, tax deductions, the root of all payday evils. So I'll try not to spend what I do get all in one place ;) At least not until the big Winter sales begin!

... Christmas Shopping Hours
The stores are now pretty open "late". Considering that normal shopping hours are until 21h00 weeknights, this means that stores are now open until 22h00 or 23h00. Everywhere is bedecked with Christmas decorations and goodies... at least now it makes "sense" to see winterised Christmas decor ;-) I must say, the Canadians really take to Christmas decorating with much aplomb: houses have been draped with Christmas lights (hung up before the cold weather arrived), and lawns displaying reindeer, snowmen and Santa Claus in bright lights. This makes for festive viewing (and distraction) when driving along the suburban roads at night.

Not much else to update on, now that I am working the days are flying by ... back to the drone of daily life :)