After our trip to India, we returned to the UK for a couple of months where we caught up with family in Eastbourne and Norfolk and our friends in Brighton. We actually did our first official house sit in Brighton, looking after a couple of incredibly cute dogs.
We are now house sitting in Toronto, Canada. We have had the time to start our blog at last, and have written about our travels over the last two or three years. We have finally caught up and everything we write from now on will be up to date!
We applied for the four and a half month house sit, and after exchanging emails with the house owner and having a chat on the phone, we booked our flight to Toronto. We are taking care of a house and sweet natured cat in Scarborough, a sprawling suburb of Toronto about half an hour by public transport to the downtown area. It's a very multicultural neighbourhood full of immigrants from all over the world. At the end of our road, about a minute's walk away, we can see Lake Ontario through the trees.
It's a lovely time of the year to be here as the trees are amazing colours. Halloween is approaching and there are pumpkins everywhere you look. Many of the houses and gardens have spooky style decorations. The house opposite has a giant inflated pumpkin. It's fun to check out the decorations as you walk round the neighbourhood.
We have enjoyed exploring Toronto. It's a fantastic city with lots to do, some fascinating ethnic areas, a great music and art scene and lots of green spaces. Initially, we bought Discovery Passes, which work out a lot cheaper than buying individual tickets. The pass includes entrance to Casa Loma, CN Tower, Toronto Zoo, Royal Ontario Museum and Toronto Science Center. You get nine days to visit the five attractions. Even though we gave the Science Center a miss, it still worked out better value than purchasing individual tickets
On our first trip downtown we took the elevator to up to the viewing deck of the CN Tower for panoramic views of the city and Lake Ontario. We walked up University Avenue to Bloor Street where we had lunch at Gabby's Diner before visiting the Royal Ontario Museum. It's a very impressive contemporary building with extensive natural history and world cultural departments. We both loved it and the gift shop is fabulous!
On another occasion, we checked out St. Lawrence Market, an undercover market with an array of speciality foods including bread, cheese, fish, meat and cakes. I tried a pea meal bacon bun, which is apparently a Toronto tradition and it was rather delicious!
Casa Loma is a hundred year old castle on a hill overlooking the downtown area. It has been used in many movies including Cocktail, Chicago and Skulls. It's a Gothic building with secret passages and towers and was interesting to have a wander round.
We were able to get tickets to see 'Sister Act' at The Ed Mervish Theatre, which was a fun and very dynamic show.
Before we left the UK, we had booked to see Alanis Morrisette at The Sound Academy. The venue is rather detached from the downtown area and located down at the port by Lake Ontario. We started walking, not realising just how far it was. When we finally got there, there was an amazing nightime view of the Toronto skyline. It was a pretty quiet and desolute area, but luckily we found a cosy bar for dinner and drinks before the gig. Alanis was fantastic, even though it was somewhat difficult to catch a glimpse of her as we were standing at the back.
We took a tour to Niagara Falls. We don't usually do tours, but it was the cheapest and most convenient way to get there from Toronto, so we set off in a mini-bus with five other people. We stopped at Niagara On the Lake, a quaint town crammed with independent shops, including a Christmas store. From the lake, we could see the Toronto in the distance. We continued on to a vineyard, where we did a little wine tasting. We sampled Ice wine, a dessert wine, which was surprisingly good. Apparently, the grapes are only picked at night and only after the temperature has been below -20 centigrade for three consecutive days.
Niagara Falls is of course, spectacular. We donned plastic capes for the Maid of the Mist boat trip. It was very windy when we got out there and we got saturated by the spray. It was difficult to see the falls through the mist, but it was fun. We got a better view when we walked to the brink afterwards. We wandered up Carlton Hill, which is like a mini Las Vegas, but full of haunted houses, waxwork museums and houses of fun on various themes. After a quick (and unprofitable) visit to the casino, it was time to head back.