You’re probably wondering, what is Jill doing back in Canada?!
Well, after nine months of thrills and some of the best weeks of my life, I woke up one morning in April and thought to myself why the hell am I leaving Canada? I have so much left to do here!
I longingly wanted to experience the Canadian summer. Actual heat during June and July is a concept very much lost on my Scottish self. It is a…
Ottawa is stunning. God really out did himself when he made this place. Two days here and I am already blissed out. I hope Canadians know just how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful warm place. You can do anything here and the weather rarely disrupts.
On the way home from the airport, my friend Michelle and I drove passed people having barbecues, sunbathing, cycling, running, playing with…
When you are abroad, home becomes a fairy tale place. One you sink into when you fall asleep. Drifting in and out of consciousness. Remembering your best friends, family, favourite places. Drinking tea at the kitchen table with your mum. Driving around with your friends, singing your favourite songs. Watching crime show after crime show on your parents’ Sky box.
It is only on returning that you…
My first time in Canada I was seven-years-old.
Fourteen years ago my parents planned for us to visit relatives in Vancouver.
The story goes: my Mum’s father had two brothers. When they were young men, one brother emigrated to New Zealand, the other brother emigrated to Canada, and my Grandfather stayed in Scotland.
I have never met my Great-Uncle Malcolm who still lives down under. But I do know my Great-Uncle Al. He is a lovely and sweet man, much like my Grandfather was. I haven’t seen Al since our visit in 2000 but I remember the holiday vividly. Fourteen year ago was when I first fell in love with Canada.
In this blog post I have decided to share with you, my wonderful Scottawa readers, some photographs from our holiday. None of the photos were in digital form so I had to spend a little time coaxing them from their beds inside the photo album, peeling them out, introducing them to the scanner (technology they have never seen before) and bringing them to life on the screen. And now I will immortalise these photographs so they can forever live in the great world wide web.
A few of my memories from Canada and moments I have never forgotten…
Picking raspberries with my Great-Auntie Marg. The fruit tasted delicious! And I had never seen fruit patches in someone’s garden before.
Meeting my Canadian family with their tanned skin and lovely accents!
Seeing my Mum drive on the other side of the car and on the other side of the street.
Going to see the Pokemon movie and getting special Mew cards.
Visiting places around Vancouver.
Being with my brothers.
I hope you have enjoyed these photographs as much I have. They are a wonderful reminder of when Canada first ventured into my heart, unpacked its bags and poured itself a cup of tea.
I love you Canada! From Jill.
Then and now: Myself in Canada circa 2000 and 2014.
Family day in the Stevens household.
We collected the troops and headed for Auchmithie, a former fishing village on the coast. Despite being only half an hour away, I had never been there before. It was beautiful. The restaurant was perched on the side of a cliff overlooking the sea. You couldn’t tell where the sea ended and the sky began. A wash of light blues painted the horizon.
My family consists of three couples, an elderly lady, a middle-aged woman, a twenty-something girl, and a baby boy. The couples include my parents, whose love still resembles that of a teenage romance, my brother Alan and his fiancé Zara, and my brother Roy and his girlfriend Sarah. Then we have my Grandmother, Zara’s mother, my one-year-old nephew and myself.
We are a strange mix and it is obvious that strangers find us quite interesting to watch. Whenever my family is in a public place, people stare. I know this because people in Scotland are subtle about nothing. It’s daunting at first but now we have an adorable mini-human to consume our attention. And what an amazing little human he is.
Sebastian has wonderful pearl teeth, he runs away faster than my hamsters, and he has awesome catch phrases. After dropping his spoon on the floor, Sebby exclaimed “OH NO!” and stuck his head under the table searching for it. Considering that I have barely heard him speak before, this was a surprising and hilarious moment for me. Seb also has a complete fascination for technology. He picks up any phone around, sticks it to his ear and says “HIYA!” again and again.
I love that little boy. Another of his fascinations is girls. Waitresses, strangers, other little toddlers. He will seek them out, smile and say “hiya”. And then get embarrassed and run away. Adorable.
Back to the adults, we all updated each other on our lives. Roy is at university, Sarah works for a game designing company, Alan works with my Dad, and Zara is a hairdresser. I love my brothers and I love their partners. Zara was discussing their wedding plans and meals and bridesmaids etc. Sebby is going to be dressed in a kilt for the wedding! It is in June 2015. She also asked if I would like to be the Chief Bridesmaid and I gave a resounding ‘yes’! I feel very honoured to be given the role (and it also means that I will be in a red dress instead of a purple one like the other bridesmaids – result!).
Sarah talked to me about awesome feminist web zines and comic strips that she thinks I will like. They all sounded awesome. I love her recommendations! Sarah and Roy told us about their holiday in Spain and there future trip to Portland, Oregon (Sarah’s hometown) in May.
After some delicious local fish dishes, we drove to Lunan Bay which is one of the most beautiful beaches in Scotland. Sebby walked on the sand in his new Wellies and he wasn’t afraid of the incoming tide. Instead, he splashed around and said hello to dogs and ran at full speed in any and every direction.
I love seeing my family. They are a strange selection but it keeps things very interesting. And I imagine most families are a confusing jumble of people. We are different and I think it is a wonderful thing to be.
Love JillThe Scottish Coast and the Strangeness of Families Family day in the Stevens household. We collected the troops and headed for Auchmithie, a former fishing village on the coast.
If there was ever a perfect incentive to wake up then my red Citroen waiting in the garage would win every time. Four months of no driving can take its toll on a country girl. But today I could drive and it was glorious.
First stop: Dundee.
I would say that it is difficult to find the right words to describe Dundee, but that would be wrong. There are plentyof accurate and appropriate words to…
I am back home in Scotland now. Laying in my marshmallow bed and listening to the birds chirping in the forest outside. It’s pretty early right now and I have been awake since 3am. Jet-lag has truly taken over my body clock.
The flights home were uneventful and I was very grateful. Although I was sat beside a talker on the first flight to Newark. The lady apologised for interrupting my book…
I miss my Swedes. To remember our awesome time together, this post is dedicated to our trip to New York. The adventure that I never recorded here on Scottawa.
Near the end of last semester, my friends Oskar and Rebecca and I decided to go to New York. We talked about it for months and finally got everything booked and our bags packed. We would bus over night and stay in a hostel in Brooklyn.
We arrived at the Greyhound bus station on the last Wednesday of November. The station was quiet and broken, which was exactly what I had expected from Greyhound. But the bus was different. Our journey was cosy and comfortable and I soon fell asleep. We had to wake up every couple of hours for stops and border security and more stops. But then, in almost a blink, we were there.
American Thanksgiving was taking over the city when we arrived. And we were perfectly on time for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Giant balloons of American characters flooded the streets and people of all ages cheered and chatted and took photos.
My favourite part about being in New York was the feeling that I had seen it all before. I recognised places and streets and stores as if they were part of my own memory. I would say This parade was in Jingle All The Way!…This park was in Home Alone!… This library was in The Day After Tomorrow… This building was in Godzilla… Spiderman… Ghostbusters… Independence Day…
Walking around New York was like wandering through my childhood memories. The extent of my movie knowledge is enough to make my parents proud. We have this joke in my family that if you don’t get a movie trivia question correct then my Mum and Dad would exclaim We have failed as parents! What uneducated children we have! And I love those moments, they illustrate the wonderfully relaxed and culture-orientated way I was brought up. Movies, movies, movies. Old, new, action, romance, sci-fi, ’90s, Disney, etc etc etc. And New York embodies so many of these memories for me.
Central Park was even better than I had imagined. Beautiful. Magical. And memories of Friends episodes sprung to mind. We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art and I was reminded of When Harry met Sally and my friend Rebecca exclaimed These steps were in Gossip Girl! We saw the Statue of Liberty, which I’m sure everyone has seen in a few movies. King Kong being the major one. One evening we drank at McGee’s, the bar which inspired the hangout place for How I Met Your Mother. That night we got tipsy Barney Stinson style and partied all over the Big Apple. Our Belgium friend Anne-Sophie and German friend Matti joined us on our late-night adventure.
The next day we found a secret burger place hidden inside a hotel. Down a marble corridor and behind a red curtain lay a small wooden room. The walls were covered in writing and drawings from previous customers. And they sold the best burgers I have ever tasted.
We spent hours wandering around New York, seeing the art and the beauty and the ruggedness in the everyday. On our last day, we skated in Central Park. And I had this flashback of a young Macaulay Culkin sliding across the ice with an angry Harry and Marv running close behind.
I looked around me, at the black and gold city and it’s bright lights, the skating couples and horse drawn-carriages. And I thought to myself, this is New York… Where memories are created years before you even step inside the city.
Love JillTwo Swedes and a Scot take on New York I miss my Swedes. To remember our awesome time together, this post is dedicated to our trip to New York.
For all who know me personally, or have seen my many activist posts on Facebook, you will know that I am a staunch feminist.
I believe in equal rights for everyone. I believe that no man, no woman, or anyone of a gender-in-between, should be afraid.
I believe that we should all be aware of our privileges. We should all make ourselves aware of the different forms of oppression which holds others…
With new friends in a hand-built cottage surrounded by snow. This is how I spent my best weekend in Canada.
Classes are almost over and Spring is nearly here (though you wouldn’t know it). For the last weekend in March, I went on a mini adventure. My journalism friend Caroline invited me to her friend’s cottage with her boyfriend Josh’s group of friends. I was told to pack warm and bring food.
The adventure began in Kevin’s car. The guitar riffs from Hotel California played in the background while Caroline filled me in on everyone’s stories. Who does what, who dates who, and who did that funny thing that time.
The group is made up of mainly high school friends. They are all about three years older than me and most have full-time jobs in technology. Of the people I met, there are three couples and four singles.
And then began the stories of the cottage. For six years they have visited the cottage bi-annually. For Christmas and summer holidays. In the winter everyone skis, builds igloos, has snowball fights, and drinks to stay warm. In the summer they roast food on bonfires, swim and canoe in the lake, eat endless hot-dogs and never sleep.
We drive up snow-covered roads and over countryside hills and along a dirt path hugged by trees. And then we arrive at the most beautiful wooden home I have ever seen. I meet Jonny and he shows me around his family’s cottage. The place was built by Jonny’s father over thirty years ago. It is beautiful. Everything is wooden. Upstairs is made up of six bedrooms filled with three or four beds each. Ladders are everywhere and bunk-bed’s appear to be carved into the walls. A log fire in the living room keeps the whole home warm.
The cottage is rented out to large groups all year round. Sometimes students, or middle-aged friends, or big families. Sometimes the place is left in a mess and sometimes it is left cleaner than when a group first arrives.
Once the mini-tour was over, it was time for me to meet the people. So far we have Caroline, Josh, Kevin and Jonny. Then I meet Marta, Ian, Victoria, Shawn, Sophie, and Mikael.
We spend the rest of the night drinking, eating chili and playing games. Over the weekend, there is a never ending flow of food as everyone takes it in turns to make meals for the group.
On Saturday we feast on eggs, bacon and hash-browns. Then venture out into the wilderness. We investigate igloos made by the last group of cottagers. A snowman is built and named Arnold for his American-football shaped head.
We amble over to the frozen lake with beers in one hand and snowballs in the other. The lake is beautiful. I look around and all I can think is how perfectly Canadian everything seemed. The snow, the deer, the hiking hills and the canoeing lakes.
People tell me stories from past summers; of snapping turtles, catching tadpoles and being Kings and Queens of the lake.
That evening we played Sardines and it was awesome. Sardines is similar to hide-and-seek except one person hides and everyone looks, when you find the person you have to hide with them. The last person to find everyone is the loser. And in a cottage filled with hidden spaces and secret rooms, the game was one hundred times more difficult and one hundred times more fun.
Eventually everyone was sweaty from searching and cramming into tiny places. We played cards instead. Kevin made dinner for everyone, he called it ‘a modern aboriginal meal’. We devoured our food and continued the games late into the evening.
The games ended in the early hours and one-by-one we fell asleep. Caroline says they used to stay up all night and drink heavy and party loud. She says there used to be more people but many have come and gone over the years. The group dynamic at the cottage has changed as often as the leaves on the trees outside. Everyone has grown up and is dealing with the realities of adulthood; heartbreak, uncertainty, being stuck in a job you don’t like, and feeling lonely.
But the beautiful thing about this weekend was that it didn’t matter what everyone was feeling about their lives or relationships or jobs when they arrived. The cottage thawed everyone. And for a couple of days everything was more than okay. Everything and everyone were perfect.
Love JillThe Weekend at Jonny’s Cottage With new friends in a hand-built cottage surrounded by snow. This is how I spent my best weekend in Canada.