Sunday, June 29, 2008

Comparing Homes

I'm back in Canada at the moment and have been noticing some of the little differences between where we live in England to where my parents live in Canada. Just a few things I've noticed this past week.

  • Rounded curbs, rather than straight edge ones, are the norm here in the suburbs.
  • Bigger parking spaces everywhere, but not much reserved parking for parents with little kids.
  • Cheaper gas. It's $1.30CDN/litre (£0.65GBP) here compared to £1.20GBP/litre ($2.42CDN) in England.
  • My elementary school no longer has school patrol in the mornings or afternoons because hardly anyone walks to school anymore. I will post more on this another day. Stay tuned.
  • There is just starting to be organic products in the grocery stores, but it is still a young market. This was similar when we were in Australia too.
  • 30°C is more scorching here as there is no cloud cover with that kind of temperature, so you get no breaks from it. However England tends to be more humid and therefore feels stickier at that temperature.
  • As in Australia, there are lots of garage sales around. In England there is very rarely garage or yard sales. I've never seen one at least. It seems most people take the stuff to boot sales, where you sell your stuff out of the back of your car.

That's a short list of small differences. It's funny what you notice and what you don't. I'm sure there are other obvious things that I just don't notice because I'm too used to both the English and the Canadian ways.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Boring Gardening Post

I know that gardening isn't everyone's idea of a fun activity, and even fewer find reading about it to be stimulating. Hence the warning in the post title today. My husband could be considered one of those who don't find gardening that thrilling, which is part of the reason I went to the Open Gardens Day in Cookham Dean on Sunday without him. I made it to 4 out of the 5 gardens and it looked like the day was a big success, as there was loads and loads of people around with programs in hand. I paid extra for good weather on the weekend (we had a BBQ to celebrate someone's 30th birthday) and it was well worth the expense, plus the open gardens benefited as well from the mild good weather. As all the money was going to charity, Thames Hospicecare, so I'm glad so many people came.

It was a good mix of gardens, from some small ones about the size of our back yard to a big acre and a half plot which I didn't make it to sadly. I guess it makes sense to show a variety, rather than just the same type. I liked the two that also had vegetable plots the most. Partly because I liked the vegetables, but also because they felt like gardens people actually use and enjoy, rather than something created for a look or maintained to keep up the good surroundings of the house. But it was interesting see all of them. I'm sure lots of people were like me and were checking out the houses as much as the gardens. Cookham Dean is considered to be the rich part of Cookham, and there are some mansions about the place that would help you confirm it (not that the Rise or the village don't have them, but the Dean has more). So it's fun to have a gawk about and see how the better off live.

On my own allotment, I was getting a bit disheartened with the slugs eating my squashes, the grass growing better and faster than any of my plants, etc etc. But there is one thing that is keeping me going - I've had some absolutely fabulous strawberries this past week. They are one part of my plot where I've managed to keep the weeds in check and there were giant, sweet and flavoursome red jewels for me to pick as a reward for my vigilance. Lena likes them too. In fact, she currently doesn't make too much fuss leaving the playground and the swings to head over to the allotment, because she knows that the strawberries can be found there. G. has had very few of the strawberries, as between Lena and I, we usually manage to eat all the berries right there and then. Perhaps it will be encouragement for him to go up to the plot and do a bit of watering and maintenance for me while I'm away with Lena in Canada the next 2 weeks. A girl can hope.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Getting Done

So I have another check on my list of British experiences. My bank card details have been stolen. There was a call yesterday from my bank's fraud department, asking to call back urgently. I only got the message this morning and dutifully called. After doing a few security check questions, it seems that someone has been trying to use a fake copy of my debit card in Canada and the U.S. They managed to get out around 150 pounds on the card. Apparently we won't have to pay it back after filling out the requisite forms (stay tuned if that isn't the case), but it's still a bit upsetting to have it happen in the first place. After reading the front page of the weekly local newspaper, Maidenhead Advertiser, it seems that the gas station (aka petrol garage) that I filled up the car earlier this month is the likely culprit. Well to be fair, they aren't the culprit, they are victims too, as it's likely the station was targeted by a gang of criminals. What annoys me is that I never fill up there, this was the only time. Argh. Ah well, it's not the end of the world, but for some people whose accounts have been cleaned out, it might feel like it. And it comes on top of our phone not working yesterday because someone had stolen the copper wiring from the local exchange overnight. (See the story What NO Phone, NO Internet? for more details.) So right now, this week, I'm not really enjoying the local British life that much.