A museum Monday

Canada part nine…


On the Monday, which was my last full day in Toronto, Geth and I decided to go and visit the Royal Ontario Museum.  Before that, however, we headed to Carlton Street for a quick look round the Maple Leaf Gardens, which is next door to the Holiday Inn where Mum and Dad were staying.

Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto
The exterior of the building, including the front signage, has stayed the same since it was built in the 1930s. It was originally the tallest structure in the vicinity, but is now dwarfed by its neighbours!

The Maple Leaf Gardens is currently used for sports by Ryerson University (the same uni that was hosting the conference Geth was attending while we were in Toronto).  They took it over and massively refurbished the interior in the early ’10s.  In the ’00s, it lay empty and deserted, but up until 1999, it was a thriving venue for political events and music concerts and was the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs ice hockey team (hence the name of the venue).

(Incidentally, it’s always really annoyed me that the team are called the Maple Leafs rather than the grammatically-correct Maple Leaves.  This is why I will never get into watching ice hockey.  #proofreaderproblems)

As a concert venue, the Maple Leaf Gardens hosted Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and pretty much everyone else who was big in the 20th century.  In 1984, Duran Duran filmed the video for The Reflex there, which was one of my main reasons for wanting to go and have a nosey around.

Inside the building, there are lots of boards on the walls telling you about the history of the venue.  The number of famous sayings that were apparently coined there is difficult to believe!

'Elvis has left the building'
‘Elvis has left the building’.

‘Elvis has left the building’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wikipedia claims differently.

'He shoots, he scores'
‘He shoots, he scores’.

‘He shoots, he scores’ – apparently said for the first time at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Wiktionary and Urban Dictionary do back this one up.


‘Hat-trick’ – apparently originated at the Maple Leaf Gardens!  Geth didn’t believe this one for a second, and again Wikipedia claims differently – cricket players were using the term almost a century earlier.

Still, I guess one out of three turning out to be true is not bad going.

After a pleasant wander around the venue, we headed over to the Royal Ontario Museum.  Geth just wanted to have a look around the main museum, but I was more interested in one of the exhibitions they had on – a collection of work by fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her interesting collaborations with architect Philip Beesley.  The creative and design process behind making the pieces was fascinating – there was a short film all about it that was being shown in the exhibition hall – but it was the beautiful dresses being shown in the hall that were the best thing:

Iris van Herpen couture dress
Perhaps a little impractical for the supermarket, but it’s very pretty.

The shiny installations dangling from the ceiling were nice as well!

Philip Beesley installations
I wouldn’t mind some of these for the house, though sadly I don’t think our ceilings are high enough.

After I’d finished looking around the exhibition, I met back up with Geth and we took a quick trip to the dinosaur floor.  They had some good skeletons, both real and replica, but it was a bit too full of kids having pictures taken with the T-Rex, so we eventually decamped to the Museum Tavern nearby, which is one of our favourite pubs in Toronto, for a couple of pints and a good chat with the barman.

In the evening, we met up with Mum, Dad, Malcolm and Steff for our last meal in Toronto, at Scaddabush.  This involved more pizza (which was served on a board with SPECIAL PIZZA SCISSORS for cutting it up!  They were amazing and I want a pair!), more cheesecake, and more crayons for scribbling on the table:

Restaurant table scribblings
Message from Steff on our last family dinner table!

After the meal, we said goodbye to Steff – she was working and wouldn’t be able to see us off the next day – and Geth and I headed back to our suite at the Grand for one last sleep in the city (for me, anyway).

New Hits Friday: 3rd August 2018

Just two new entries this week.

Fredo, Young T and Bugsey – Ay Caramba

The intro with the group vocal is quite good, and I like the 8-bit videogame inspired backing track, but the rap verses are very dull.

Oh yeah, and it’s another grim, offensive, NSFW video.  Not recommended.  It’s a yacht ‘n’ almost-naked girls video that basically illustrates everything that has gone wrong with the world in the thirty-six years since Rio first did this theme.  Utterly horrendous and depressing.

DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Quavo and Chance The Rapper – No Brainer

Even more uninspired than previous collaboration I’m The One.  There’s nothing interesting about this track at all.

The video’s pretty daft and has too much of a teenage ‘look how wild and crazy we are with our booze and illicit substances’ theme to it, but I guess it’s got quite a nice colourful quality.

And the survey says…

…that I have escaped the ignominy of having to pay my Slimming World fee again!  I lost the four pounds required to take me back into target range.  Will try to lose a bit more this next week so that I’m more towards the middle of it again.

I went to WH Smith afterwards to pick up my Doctor Who Magazine (I’m several months behind with reading DWM, but I’ve been diligently buying all the issues so I can catch up at some point).  I’ve been sternly telling myself that I need to cut down on magazines, because I never have time to read the ones I buy and it’s a bit of an expensive habit, but when I walked into the shop, all of these were on display:

Classic Pop Magazine – my new favourite magazine and also my new downfall, given that they keep releasing all these special editions about my favourite bands. Still not got round to reading the Pet Shop Boys one from two months ago!

Yeah.  I’ll be starting that ‘cutting down’ thing next week.

Another quiet afternoon plugging away at work – Pilates class is on summer break till September so I’ve got plenty of time on a Thursday afternoon to get on with things at the moment.

Geth has been playing a lot of Final Fantasy XIII-2 this week, which has meant a lot of early nights reading for me.  I expect I will be doing the same tonight, although I’ll possibly be forsaking my Kindle for making a start on that giant pile of magazines that I just added to.

OOTD 2nd August 2018
OOTD: it’s still pretty warm around here. Vest top Primark (2018), skirt unknown brand (estimated 1980s, bought at vintage fair 2018).

Take me out to the ball game

Canada part eight…


On the Sunday in Toronto, Geth and I had a lie-in (or as much of a lie-in as you can have when you’ve never quite adjusted to Toronto time) after getting up early the day before – and then after breakfast, we headed to the Holiday Inn to meet Dad, and the three of us walked through Toronto in the pouring rain towards the Rogers Centre, where we were going to see the Blue Jays play.

I’d never been to a baseball game before, but after we met up with Malcolm and Steff and went into the stadium, Malcolm explained that the Blue Jays are only the second worst team in the league at the moment and their opponents for the weekend series, the Baltimore Orioles, are the worst, which was why the Blue Jays had already won two out of three games.

The Rogers Centre is huge, and is full of stalls where you can buy souvenir merchandise, booze, and pizza – my three favourite things.  I got a Blue Jays t-shirt from the sale rack, and had to go with a Bacardi Breezer to drink as I didn’t fancy any of the beers – I don’t think I’ve had one of those since I was a teenager.  Luckily, for subsequent rounds, Geth managed to find me some Brickworks 1904 to drink.  The pizza was good too!

I really enjoyed the game – baseball turns out to be a nice relaxed thing where you can dash in and out for drinks and food all the time, and the atmosphere reminded me of going to see a weekend of Sevens rugby at Murrayfield back in 2007.

Baseball game
The Blue Jays fielding.

It looked for a while like the Blue Jays might lose, and a lot of the fans left the stadium early, but they pulled it back in the last couple of innings for a nice exciting win at the end!

After the game, I took a picture of Geth with his namesake street sign:

Rees Street, Toronto
Want street sign?

We had another nice meal in the Holiday Inn bar in the evening – no cheesecake for me this time, however, as I’d already tried all the ones at the Holiday Inn!

Phone Box Thursday: Main Street, Shap

Today we’re looking at the second of the three Shap phone boxes.

Red phone box
Red phone box, Main Street, Shap, 1st June 2016.

(Coordinates 54.5258808N, 2.6744523W.)

Judging by the sign, this is (or at least was at some point) a modified phone box facility with a basic computer for email purposes.  There used to be one of those at the bottom of Sciennes, Edinburgh, which I used a lot when I was living in the Sciennes student flats (which were the ONE block of university flats that hadn’t had internet put in by 2003).  The Sciennes one was a KX series box, but it’s good to see that the classic K6s were at least temporarily used for this purpose as well.

We finish our Shap stop next week.

A whole week of jetlag

I’ve been back from Canada for a week now, and I’m still struggling a little with my sleeping pattern, although at least this morning I was only an hour late forcing myself awake.  It really is worse going eastwards.

Another day mostly spent getting on with work and cleaning the house, although I did also try on my bridesmaid dress for Lisa and Kieran’s wedding.  Good thing I did, as it’s a bit too long and I’m going to have to take it in to be hemmed – luckily Geth has already booked an alterations appointment as he needs his suit taken in, so we’ll get that done together.

Second SP day went well – I made an awesome salad, which Geth says he wants to eat more often.  Recipe coming soon!

OOTD 1st August 2018
OOTD: another sundress day. Dress Matalan (2001), shoes Zara (2018).

Post-parkrun Saturday in Toronto

Canada part seven…


Returning from parkrun on the Saturday was a lot more relaxing than getting there had been!  A couple of friendly fellow parkrunners gave us a lift back to Whitby train station, and we got on the GO train to head back to Toronto.  I like the GO trains because they’re double-decker, like the trains in Italy:

Double-decker train
Double-decker train, complete with lots of Toronto Blue Jays fans going into the city for the game!

We had some lovely lakeside views going back into Toronto.

Lake Ontario from the train
Lake Ontario from the train.

Once back in Toronto, there were lots of interesting things to see on the way back to our hotel, including this insanely tacky dog-themed fountain:

Tacky dog fountain in Toronto
Want plastic dog statue?

After we got back to our hotel for a post-parkrun shower, we headed to Panera for a coffee and a pastry, having missed the window for breakfast at the hotel.  The pastry was delicious and I can still taste it now.  After tomorrow’s weigh-in, I may have to put aside some syns for something similar!

We then went shopping – Geth for shorts (which he couldn’t find in the right style at the right price point, so we gave up) and boxers (trusty ol’ H&M did some Star Wars ones!), and me for tops (H&M again) and underwear (on a good deal at Victoria’s Secret Pink, but Geth was not impressed with how expensive bras are these days).  Geth’s habitual ‘Valleys boy’ reaction to spending a lot of money in the shops is to go and find a pub for a stiff drink, so we went to one of Toronto’s many ‘British’ bars and watched the sport on the TV again.

Me with a Somersby
Somersby cider again! I probably drank more of it in Toronto than I have done in the UK for the whole two and a bit years since Resistanz Festival stopped running.

In the evening, we went out for Mum’s birthday meal at the Pickle Barrel, joined by Malcolm and Steff and Steff’s parents Mike and Antoniette – it was lovely to catch up with them.  I skipped the starter this time so that I could be sure of fully enjoying the Brown Cow cheesecake!

Toronto continues tomorrow.

parkrun tourism: Edinburgh

When Geth and I were in Scotland this weekend, we went out to Cramond on the Saturday morning to do Edinburgh parkrun.

I’m in Edinburgh fairly often for obvious reasons, and so I’ve done Edinburgh parkrun five times now – second in quantity only to Newcastle.  It’s a lovely flat out-and-back course with a lollipop loop at the halfway point, and on a good day you get fairly spectacular views of the Firth of Forth.  They also have an infamous ‘parkrun weather window’ – so although I’ve often been there on days when it’s been pissing with rain before or after the parkrun, it’s never rained during the parkrun itself!

This last weekend, the conditions were particularly good – not too hot, not too windy, could have been less crowded but it wasn’t too bad.  I went out fairly fast, and I found I was able to keep it up.  I knew I was doing well, ’cause I was knackered most of the way round – but it wasn’t until I got to the finishing straight and Geth was standing there shouting ‘PB is ON’ that I allowed myself to hope.  I couldn’t pull off a sprint finish, ’cause I didn’t have the energy left, but I was able to speed up just enough to get a time of 30:52 – which is 54 seconds faster than my previous PB from April!  I doubt I’ll beat that again for a while!

Looking forward to being back at Edinburgh parkrun around Christmas time.

Days spent in the house

Two days in a row without leaving the house!  I can’t remember the last time that happened.

To be fair, I was meant to go for a run this morning, but I’ve decided to push that to Friday, largely because the jetlag is still ongoing and I had a lot of other things to do today.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve got a lot of work on for the next month.  It includes projects for about five different clients, which keeps it nice and interesting.  I’m also still trying to work on the house – today I at least got it tidied up, which makes it a much more comfortable space for working in.

SP day today to try and shift that holiday weight before Slimming World weigh-in on Thursday!  Doing another one tomorrow.  I had all-day breakfast for tea tonight, but I actually found it to be a bit heavy, so I might try something more salad-y tomorrow night.

OOTD 31st July 2018
OOTD: hoodie Sonar (2006), t-shirt Katharine Hamnett for Help Refugees (2017), trousers Christian Siriano Runway Style (2018), shoes 1st Position (2018).

parkrun tourism: Whitby

Canada part six…


On the Saturday in Toronto, Geth and I got up very early, and went to Ontario’s only parkrun, Whitby parkrun.

We walked for about forty-five minutes to get to the train station, bought tickets, spent another forty-five minutes on the train, and arrived in Whitby shortly after eight o’clock.  It was at that point that Geth realised he couldn’t really remember how to get to the parkrun.  I’m not leaving him in charge of directions in future!

After a bit of a saga involving asking lots of people at the train station and the nearby leisure centre for directions, we made it to the parkrun start line with just a few minutes to spare, and met a few other Brits who were also parkrun touristing.

The parkrun itself was a really nice route – a simple out-and-back course through a lovely quiet park with nice wide paths.  There were only twenty-odd people taking part, and so Geth and I both came first in our age categories – something that I doubt will be repeated any time soon!

parkrun sprint finish
A rare running photo where I actually look like I’m running! Photo by Whitby parkrun.

I got my standard-for-now sub-33, which I was fine with considering I hadn’t run for two weeks.  I’m really pleased to have done some international parkrun tourism at last!

Whitby parkrun
Far-flung parkrun souvenir photo! Photo by Whitby parkrun.