I’m not allowed to mention ‘Canada’ anymore around certain people* because they’ve been scarred by my prolonged absence (others revelled) and since I’ve been back they’ve heard enough about that darned country, but you, dear readers, don’t get a choice.
Material gave me the opportunity to have a bit of time out (a year) to fulfil a long held dream (one of many) to explore my country of choice (Canada). So in March 2014 I headed to Toronto on a Working Holiday Visa (I recommend it) and had quite a bit of fun in one of the most amazing countries in the world.
I won’t bore you with all of the shenanigans but thought I’d give you a sort of comparison of home and away. Namely: The Things I Missed and The Things I Didn’t.
I’ll try to keep the soppiness and cheese (although Canada doesn’t do cheese very well. It’s very expensive and there’s not as much variety (except in Quebec- the French do things properly)). I’m not here to babble about missing my family and friends, surely you understand, that is a given, and was terribly hard… but I managed. Skype and Facetime helped.
Here’s a list of what I REALLY missed:
1. Marmite and full fat Irn Bru: banned from Canada since the CJD crisis… something about the ingredient, Enriched Calcium, being made from ground up animal bones. Or that’s the rumour and reasoning I like to spread… Weirdly Diet Irn Bru is allowed.
2. Glasgow band fans: I volunteered at a few music festivals while in Toronto and anyone who knows me, knows I try and go to a fair few gigs. And wow. The Canadian crowds just don’t cut it. Nobody really moves, nobody really sings along, nobody goes nuts down the front and shouts ‘yer maw’ at the lead singer. Fair enough I didn’t miss the ‘yer maw’ yells but I did miss the electric atmosphere of being right in the middle of a heaving, sweaty mass of people absolutely LOVING their idols on stages like Tuts, SWG3, The Arches, Barrowlands or ABC. The sort of love that is palpable even when it is a wee band climbing to stardom.
3. Having a proper, long time HOME to call HOME: I have been to a lot of countries on holidays, trips, weekend breaks, backpacking etc. and during my year away I stayed in some havens… and some holes. But I think I am getting a little bit too old for transience. I am definitely too old for blow up beds. How sad to say. Then again, I wouldn’t have met some of the most awesome people ever if I hadn’t jumped from place to place. I wouldn’t have learnt how to grow strawberries and French beans (thanks Anand), I wouldn’t have had a pal to stream Made in Chelsea and eat zucchini spaghetti with (thanks Denise), I wouldn’t have had to listen to Uptown Funk nearly every day for 2 months (thanks Jake), I wouldn’t have blown bubbles with distant cousins (thanks Kari) and I wouldn’t have walked on frozen lakes, visited a town called Dildo or grown up (thanks Mark). I’ll stop there before I get too soppy.
And here is what I didn’t miss:
1. Rain: I forgot how much it rained in Glasgow. Toronto may have six months of winter and it did reach -38C with windchill one day but the sky was generally bright blue and I rarely needed a brolly.
And the sunsets!
2. The Neds: Canada doesn’t have any! IT’S AMAZING!
3. I suppose I should say ‘My Responsibilities’… what’s nicer to have a year of holiday where I can do what I want and go wherever the wind takes me? It was special and if it came up again, and was a possibility, I would do it again, but in reality I think I like having responsibilities.
One thing I definitely realised after working at two bars and a PR company: it’s nice to work with good people and like your job. I was a temporary Exec Assistant to the CEO of that PR company in question and it was definitely an eye opener. Some lovely people and such hard workers but the boss had gone through 5 EAs in a year. Compare that to Material where there has been 1 EA for 5 years. Me! Material is good people and I’m happy to be back here. I hope they are happy I’m back too. I’m also really excited to have a new position as Talent & Culture Manager. I like this responsibility.
*Sera, Rae, Charlotte (please avert your eyes)
P.s. I’m sure a few of you will be pleased I continued my ‘Playing Dead at Incredibly Beautiful or Culturally Significant Sites’ campaign.