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Round the World

Jim was the first person I shared a flat with on moving to Birmingham and we got on well from the start. Despite this only being for 18 months in the mid 90’s we have stayed in touch. Since then Jim moved on to University in Glasgow, before dropping out and running most of the small comedy clubs in that city for a while. He then moved to Canada to look for new opportunities and join his parents and sister. Since arriving he has met Cari and they share a great apartment in Hamilton. Cari is great fun and has grown up locally with a huge extended family.

Toronto

Toronto, Canada

I decided to explore Toronto for the first couple of days of the trip, catching the local bus / train service from Hamilton. In doing so I noticed that the express train in the evening takes longer than the midday bus to do the same journey. On catching the train back I found this is because the train moves at walking pace, but it is modern, clean and comfortable.

CN Tower, Toronto, Canada

A noticeable feature of Toronto is that you can move through most of the commercial district of town without ever emerging outdoors, the whole area is linked with a series of pedestrian and train subways. Not something I used whilst the weather is so good but I assume the winters must be harsh for this level of investment, either that or Canadians have picked up mole genes along the way.

Jim & Cari by Niagara Falls, Canada

The weekend saw a trip to Niagara Falls, one of the features of the world that you know of from an early age. It is a gorgeous and powerful sight, especially from the edge of the Horseshoe falls where you can look down on the water as it throws itself over the edge. The falls and the gorge look wonderful and it is possible to find fairly unspoilt views, however there has been rampant development all round in the form of tall hotels with a “Fall View” and Clifton Hill with its tacky attractions and snack joints (so tacky it almost goes out the otherside to become a feature in itself).

There have also been opportunities to meat a fun bunch of people, Cari’s Aunt Lynne and her best friend Shaun dropped round the night I arrived with chilled beers. Then on friday it was Jim’s sisters birthday (Sue) so I got to meet her family and Jim’s parents who I had not seen for over 6 years. I hadn’t realised that Canada produced much wine, but it does and of high quality, particularly those marked with a VQA label.

Today’s plan was to head to Montreal on the train but the price (226 Canadian dollars!!!) and journey time have put me off. Think I’ll get better acquainted with Toronto and will spend part of my savings in Chinatown.

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Round the World

And I’m off at last, welcome to Canada…..

Today is the day. Spent last evening down at my brother’s, along with my dad having a great meal at restaurant called the Madagascan Gin Palace. Quality food but I would have gone there for the name alone.

I was originally planning to fly out on the 11 September having not connected the date in my head. Having realised the significance of the date and believing that with the world’s security staff being on alert the vibes would be bad, I booked to fly out today. It didn’t save me, as Canada’s immigration and customs officials were double checking everything and it took about an hour to get through. I was concerned that Jim and Cari would not realise the reasons for the delay and would think they had missed me somehow. I needn’t have worried as a combination of traffic and heading to the wrong terminal initially meant they pulled up just as I got outside. Things looked up as we bought a case of beer on the way to the apartment and Cari told me how she had put her heart and soul into a giant pot of Chilli. Welcome to Canada……..

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Round the World

Just back from Andy & Saran’s wedding in southern Ireland. A fantastic day that the happy couple seemed to enjoy and a great opportunity for me to catch up with a lot of friends from Uni before I set off. Feeling somewhat damaged today but that has to be expected when the wedding has both Polish and Irish influences (lots of Stout followed by Vodka toasts). Pictures to follow when I get them. On that note thanks very much to Sue for bringing a series of pictures from the old days. We all looked about 12 and had universally terrible haircuts so they provided much amusement for the guests on the brides side who didn’t know us then.

The plane was late on the way back so it was a rush to get to the Sore Jaw comedy club in time. Still one of the best nights out in Solihull and glad to have made it again.

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Round the World

1 week to go….

Its now one week to go before I set off and…..

The nerves are still there but in the background and I am now anxious to get going. Most of my preparations are done with me having done a trial pack of the backpack and lugged it round the block for a couple of laps, having compressed about 40 albums onto 8 CDs, photocopied every document and dropped copies with the family.

Now all I have to do is sort out the bills, attend Andy’s wedding in Ireland (which should be good fun), do a final pack without forgetting anything too important and say goodbye to the family.

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Round the World

It suddenly came home to me that there are only just over 2 weeks to go before I set off. Having planned it about 20 months ago I had got used to thinking about the trip in the distant future and the sudden realisation of how close I was did make me slightly nervous. Not really about the travelling itself, but more about the final preparations before leaving.

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Round the World

Just back from Andy P.ski’s stag do. Tried a new cocktail named after the Refresher sweets because it tastes exactly like them. Equal parts Lime Bacardi Breezer, Blue WKD and Red Bull; trust me on this that it tastes great and keeps you awake.

We went carting today with a couple of 20 minute races. Dave Oldcorn and I spent much of both races sparring with me having to drive very defensively to keep him behind. Did enough to claim a 2nd place in the first race and win the second making me the winner of the day. Dave was 2nd on the day and Matt Halsall would have won if he hadn’t spun on the penultimate lap. Never mind mate, you had the fastest laps in both races and qualifying. Good to see you all, thanks to Matt for organising things and see you all at the wedding in 3 weeks.

Stag Do Finale : L2R John, Dave, Andy, me, Seth, Matt, Kev