Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Canada 1 - Memories, Apples on the Shower Roof and Peace

On August 27th my cousin Glenys and I was flew to Canada. As we descended into Toronto airport I saw the azure blue of Lake Ontario glimmering below, then plane then banked sharply and I saw downtown Toronto, dominated still by the elegant CN Tower. In that moment I suddenly went back in time to when I was arriving in the same city, 22 years old, young, adventurous and somewhat scared. After having worked in offices since leaving school and being bored out of my mind, I knew I needed to rethink my future career, I was in arriving in Canada to work as a mother's help for a year and to give me time to work out where my life was going to go. It turned out that the woman I was going to work for was a psychiatrist, I read her books and realised that was the way ahead for me - two weeks after returning home I started my training as a psychiatric nurse, and, as they say, the rest is history! I was surprised how strongly that arrival all those years ago hit me, this was the first time I had been back to Canada since.

Immigration was surprisingly easy and soon we were on a shuttle bus to Waterloo, Ontario. My friend Dianne and her husband Dan were there to meet us, it was great to see them again. It was about a half an hours drive to the cottages where we were going to stay. Dianne had inherited the two buildings from her parents, they were in the country north of Drayton by the Conestoga River. By time we arrived it was dark and we had to walk down the step incline to the cottages by torchlight! We got to Russell's Cottage (named after Dianne's father, Dianne and Dan were in the other cottage, named Edna's after her mother, nearby) which was to be our home for the next six days.   It was cosy and homely, full of character, lots of pictures on the walls and ornaments.

Russell's Cottage
You have to be flexible, willing to rough it a little and easy going to stay at the cottage. There is no electricity or running water. You get your water from a well, use a porta potty at night and an outdoor privy (in a wooden building) during the day. Lighting is by oil lamps, and solar/battery lights, torches become your constant companion at night. No TV or phone. There is an ingenious shower inbetween the two cottages, rain water is piped by gravity to the wooden shower building, water is heated up by propane gas and you end up with a lovely refreshing shower!  The plastic roof of the shower was covered in tiny apples that had fallen from a nearby tree.

We were exhausted and went to bed soon after arriving and I was asleep within minutes.

Next morning we woke up to blue skies, sunshine and a wonderland! Our cottage looked out over a hill that flattened out to create what Dianne and Dan call The flats, running through this area is the Conestoga River. Bird feeders were everywhere and the cheeky Chickadees were as numerous as our sparrows. To the left around Edna's Cottage were cedar woods, to our right more woods.  It was beautiful, relaxing and peaceful, Glenys and I both love nature and we spent ages watching birds we had never seen before.

Conestoga River
We had breakfast in Edna's cottage with Dan and Dianne.  It was dark in there as it was surrounded by trees (which gave it shelter from the sun) so for the first time in my life I had breakfast by candlelight! 

We had a lazy day just admiring the view and chilling out.  That evening, Dianne and Dan had a barbecue, Dianne's brother and his wife came, along with their daughter Shelley who looked 20 but to our astonishment was 34!  Also there was a friend called Shirley.  All were very nice and we had a lovely fun evening.  It's lovely having barbecues, something we do rarely in the UK due to the weather.

Sunday too was spent just relaxing and getting over jetlag.  I loved this life, no rush, no looking at the time, no computer or TV.  The only sounds are from the wildlife, including the loudiest cicadas I've heard - they sounded like an electric saw!  It was simple but wonderful, for years Dianne has told me how much she loves this place and now I can see why, it's a paradise.

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