Turn Right on Red

Fiat 500
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As I drove home from dropping my daughter off for her early training session this morning, I found myself considering the driving transition I will have to make when we move.  There is something about the pre-dawn hours, possibly simply that you should be in bed rather than contemplating rational or coherent thought at that time of day, that I have found can prompt the strangest and most varied train of thought!

Over the last couple of years I have become accustomed to huge multiple-lane Canadian roads, left hand drive cars, and a number of perplexing driving rules.  Although, anyone who has drawn up behind me at a red light will know that I have never quite got to grips with the confusing rule of the road that makes it acceptable to “turn right on red”.  Also, given that I have been driving an automatic for the last couple of years (point and press driving if you like!), it does makes me wonder how well I will be able to switch back to winding country lanes, single flow traffic and navigating a stick!  Especially since smooth gear changes have never been my forte.  My parents will recall, and I am aware that they do so often, how I wore out a gear box when learning to drive.  And, I know my Mother will never quite recover from my first attempt at merging onto a dual carriageway.  When instead of pulling forward and joining the traffic, I came to a complete standstill, stalled the car, took my hands from the steering wheel, waved my arms, laughed and wondered out loud what to do and how to do it!  There is really no need to add that the queue of traffic and enraged motorists also waiting to join the road were less than impressed, and that I was the only one to find it the least bit amusing.

I am eternally thankful that regaining my British licence is not contingent on my taking a driving test.  The prospect that I might have had to demonstrate my capability in hill starts and reverse parking, not only made me shudder, but also made me wonder whether purchasing a bus pass would have been an acceptable option.  So, in preparation for taking to the English roads again this summer, I am adopting this simple three point mantra:

1.  Buy a small car (easier to navigate?)
2.  Flapping your arms should be reserved for waving at people you know
and not a fall-back driving response
3.  Never turn right on red!

And, repeat…..

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Good intentions!

Good things

I had every intention of sitting down over the weekend and writing a proper post for Monday morning…..

However, between Taekwondo competitions, a three day swim meet and my son’s birthday, my good intentions slipped.  Or if I am honest, they disappeared off the radar completely.

Have a wonderful start to your week.

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Bikes, Cars and the Olden Days…..


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My son loves to talk (and talk and talk), in fact rarely is he quiet – that is unless he is eating!  His choice of subject matter is to say the least broad ranging, and he will discuss his chosen topic above and beyond.  Keeping track of his line of conversation can at times be challenging.

This morning as I drove him to the dentist for his check-up, we found ourselves having just one of these very chats….about of all things, cyclists and road safety.  Since we did not pass, nor can I recall the last time we saw a cyclist on the road in our neighbourhood, how we happened upon this conversation piece is a mystery to me.

I won’t attempt to recount our entire discussion (or even include the edited highlights), suffice to say after extensive to-ing and fro-ing, he asks:

“Mummy, when you are riding your bike, do you wave your arms so
the traffic knows which way you are going?”

In a nutshell, no, because I inform him, if I were to do so, I would most definitely wobble dangerously and most likely fall off.

“But, Mummy…..”

Eager to distract him from the lecture on road safety which I knew was about to follow (yes, I do wonder frequently whether in actual fact my children are infinitely more grown up and sensible than me, a suggestion with which I am more than sure they would concur), I divert him with what I believe to be an interesting historical snippet.  As I told him of how the drivers of early cars had to lean out and indicate by flapping their arms as they had no switch to flick and light system to flicker, he sniggered away.

“Mummy, is that what you did in the olden days?”


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Putting the Dairy into Dairy Milk!

A glass and a half in every bar
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When I flew back from England recently, I had an “interesting discussion” at the immigration desk when I landed in Canada.

Tucked into my suitcase alongside a couple of small presents for my children, and nestling amongst my stash of teabags were several bars of Cadbury’s chocolate (I may have mentioned this before, but Cadbury’s chocolate made in Canada just does not taste the same).  On my landing declaration form I had noted down that I was bringing in approximately $50 of English bounty.  Since, after being out of the country for more than 48 hours I am allowed to bring back $800 worth, it did not occur to me that immigration would even give my documentation a second glance!

However, it seems I had made an error completing my form – such a grave error that there followed a significant amount of head shaking and tutting from the immigration official before me.

What had I done wrong?

Simply put, how could I even begin to contemplate bringing chocolate into the country without ticking dairy on my form?  This left me feeling a little bewildered to be honest.  But then I suppose it really is a case of putting the dairy into Dairy Milk…..quite literally!

Once my error was explained to me and I had apologised and promised never to make the same mistake again(!), I was allowed through and my chocolate arrived safely home with me.  It is fortunate however that I didn’t make mention of the teabags.  I imagine the assumption would have been that there was more negligent form filling out, as surely I must have collected these “leaves” when visiting a farm (another box which I had of course neglected to tick on my customs declaration).

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Spring blossom

After months of sub-zero weather and a winter which quite frankly seemed like it would never end, the sun is shining.  Not only is it shining, but in an incredible turn around, given that just two weeks ago snow was settling on the ground, temperatures have hit the mid-twenties.

Blue sky

Any of you who have followed my blog over the winter months – and had to listen to (and endure?) my endless diatribe as I raged against the cold and ice – will fully appreciate how excited I am to have consigned my snow boots and puffa coat to the back of the wardrobe in exchange for summer shorts and dresses.

As the weather was simply too beautiful to stay in the city today, we drove out to the Bruce Trail to enjoy the sunshine.

A walk in the sunshine

What a difference a few months makes.  The last time we walked this trail it looked like this:

Minus 9

Fingers crossed that this gorgeous sunny weather is here to stay!

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Scones {in the sunshine}

Scones {in the sunshine}

With my recent week away and our impending move occupying far too much of my time, I realised that it has been far too long since I did any baking.  This was made abundantly clear to me by my daughter, who has taken to sniffing the air as she comes through the front door from school then sighing dramatically and drooping disappointedly onto the hall bench when she can’t detect cake!

So, yesterday after school we sat on the deck in the sunshine and had a proper Cornish cream tea (or as close we could get since we are simply unable to find clotted cream here).

I may have had to use whipped cream instead of clotted, but for the record, the jam was spread onto the scone first and then topped with cream and not the other way around!

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For this scone recipe you will need:

25g butter
100g self-raising flour (sifted) *
150ml milk

*  I have found I cannot buy good self-raising flour in Canada, so use all-purpose instead.  For this recipe I substitute 2 teaspoons of all-purpose flour for 2 teaspoons of baking powder.

Makes 6 – 8 scones

  • Pre-heat the oven to 230°C / 450°F / Gas Mark 8 and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  • Measure the butter and sifted flour into a bowl and rub together until the mixture takes on the texture of breadcrumbs.  This can be done by hand, but I always use my Kitchen Aid.
  • Add milk and mix to form a sticky dough.
  • Roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is approximately 2.5cm thick.  Cut out the scones (I use a 6cm round cutter).
  • Place the scones on a baking sheet, brush the tops with a little milk and bake in the pre-heated oven for 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown and well risen.
  • Allow to cool then split the scones in half, fill with jam and top with whipped cream (or if you can find it, clotted cream).
  • Absolutely delicious eaten in the sunshine with a cup of tea.

Note:  this is a recipe which I have previously shared as a guest post.

Mayday – Mayday – Mayday

May will be our last full month in Canada.  And given that we are now embarking on our second trans-Atlantic move within the space of less than two years, that today’s date can also be used as an international distress symbol seems personally more relevant than any of the many traditions associated with 1st May.


Although as I described to my children over supper last night how at school we were taught to dance around a Maypole, ribbons twirling and gingham dresses swishing, the look of amusement (mixed with abject horror) on their faces was quite priceless!

If you haven’t read about the debacle which was my last move, you can do so here.

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