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Friday, 9 December 2011

A Great Canadian Weekend

It was time for me to attend my first SWAP Social. Having gate crashed many of the reciprocal Work In Ireland Socials back in Ireland (the infamous trip to Galway where I managed to turn it into a fake hen party for myself was particularly enjoyable), I had an idea of what to expect. Lots of foreigners getting together, partaking in local activities and usually a few civilised fizzy drinks. Before any of this happened, I was used for slave labour in the Plummer household to assist them in readying their garden for the winter and their Christmas decorations. I say slave labour, I actually quite enjoyed it. Not sure I would like to have to do it every winter but it was interesting enough. Really helped me to work up an appetite for the game and the few pints too!

We started off with a traditional Canadian past-time of a hockey game; Toronto Marlies vs Rochester Americans at Ricoh Coliseum. As the Marlies are in the AHL and not the NHL like the Maple Leafs, the tickets are much cheaper and they don't fight as often as the professional teams but you could still get the idea. It was pretty exciting, kind of like hurling but played on ice. Very fast paced; considering I can rarely walk without tripping, adding ice to the equation is a scary concept for me. There was such a varied crowd. sitting right behind us was a group of young boys who were a little too vocal throughout the game. It would have been annoying if they weren't so damn cute. There was a stag party with one of the members in a blue Morph suit. Why do these Morph suits appear so often when I'm around?? As with any sporting event, drink was too expensive to enjoy properly and for once, the long and frequent gaps during the game did not make me as angry as usual as we had plenty of time for bathroom breaks and to queue at the bar. Will definitely be attending more games while I'm here! We then did the usual and went for a few drinks, to an Irish bar obviously. The Brazen Head is a nice enough bar and they had good deals on the pitchers but it lacked a certain 'je ne sais quoi'. Got to meet some nice people though, always good to build up your contacts network in a new place!

That Sunday saw me stalking Santa Claus at the annual Santa Claus Parade. I did take issue with the fact that the parade was being held on the 20th of November, they Christmas hype just starts earlier and earlier every year. While the parade took a long time to get going and I did feel somewhat out of place without a child with me to justify me standing there, I managed to enjoy it. There was something quite magical when Santa was going by and the kids all around were so excited. Oh to be young and innocent again! I decided to head for a pint afterwards and hit McVeighs Pub, which was where Gillian had advised me would be the closest thing that I would find to Fitzgeralds at home. I had already given up on finding a replacement but a close imitation would do me! It wasn't bad and I reckon when the homesickness really hits, it will be a good place to visit!

Moral of the Story - take advantage of local Canadian activities. It may surprise you how much fun they can be!

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